The White House on Thursday condemned rocket attacks that Israel says Iran launched overnight from its bases in Syria amid rapidly escalating tensions in the region.
“We strongly support Israel’s right to act in self-defense,” the White House said in a statement. “The Iranian regime’s deployment into Syria of offensive rocket and missile systems aimed at Israel is an unacceptable and highly dangerous development for the entire Middle East.”
Israel and Iran have engaged in multiple rounds of attacks since President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he would break the Iran nuclear deal.
The Israeli military said Iran had fired rockets at soldiers in the Golan Heights — apparently the first time Iran has done so — though all were intercepted or fell short of their targets. Israel then conducted retaliatory strikes against dozens of Iranian facilities in Syria, also taking out Syrian air defense systems.
Israel pinned the suspected Iranian strikes on the Quds Force, a unit of special forces.
The White House statement placed the blame squarely on Iran, against which the Trump administration has adopted an increasingly hard line. It called on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah “to take no further provocative steps,” and asked the rest of the world to condemn Iran’s actions as well.
A human rights monitoring group said 23 Syrian soldiers and allies had died in the Israeli strikes, though the Syrian army pegged the number at only three. It was unclear whether that included Iranians.
Suspected Israeli strikes previously hit Syrian bases linked to Iran on Tuesday.
Trump’s announcement this week that he would “withdraw” the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal earned criticism from both allies and adversaries. European countries have been scrambling to salvage the accord. But the U.S. cast it as a bad deal that did little to stop Iran’s regionally destabilizing actions or march toward nuclearization.
Threats from both Israel and Iran, longtime enemies, have ratcheted up in recent months as the Syrian war threatened to become a proxy conflict for several regional power players.