Israel strikes Iranian forces in Syria in response to rocket attack

Israel strikes Iranian forces in Syria in response to rocket attack
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Israel carried out airstrikes on dozens of Iranian targets in Syria on Thursday in response to what Israel's military said was Iranian rocket fire on Israeli military outposts in the Golan Heights.

The Israeli attack was its most extensive strike in Syria in decades, the Israeli military said, according to multiple media reports, and came amid heightened tensions in the region. 

The Syrian Army Command said the Israeli airstrikes killed three people and left two others injured, according to Reuters. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll much higher, saying at least 23 people were killed. 

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The Israeli strikes came after a barrage of 20 rockets were fired at Israeli troops in the Golan Heights. The Israeli military has blamed that attack on Iranian forces in Syria. 

Tensions have soared in recent days, after President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE announced that he would pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal — a move applauded by Israel but fiercely condemned by Tehran. 

The pact sought to curb Iran's nuclear program by sharply reducing its ability to enrich uranium. In exchange, the Islamic Republic received significant sanctions relief. 

Trump had long criticized the deal, however, arguing that it failed to curb Iran's activities beyond its nuclear program, such as its support for groups deemed terrorist organizations by the U.S. 

The U.S. withdrawal was widely expected to raise tensions between Iran and Israel, which after Trump's announcement placed its military on high alert and deployed more Iron Dome batteries in its northern region. 

Israel's military said it had detected "irregular activity" by Iranian forces in Syria.

The White House condemned the rocket fire at Israel, blaming the attack on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp. 

"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," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.