Timeline of Israel-Iran tensions in Syria and the region
Updated: Mar 13, 2020
Growing tensions between Israel and Iran, particularly in Syria, have led to rocket fire from Syria directed at Israel and numerous airstrikes by Israel on Iranian targets in Syria. This timeline is designed to provide background and details on Iran-Israel tensions in Syria.
March 17, 2017
An SA-5 missile with a 200kg warhead is fired from Homs at Israeli F-15s after Israeli airstrikes, it is intercepted by Israel’s Arrow 3 defense system over Jordan.
August 17, 2017
Israel former air force chief Amir Eshel says Israel struck more than 100 targets in five years in Syria.
September 12, 2017
During tour of border with Israel, Hezbollah members, Qais al-Khazali, who was banned from Lebanon, says his group Asaib Ahl al-Haq is ready 'to stand with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause against the unjust Israel
Israel demanded 60km Buffer but Russia let Iranian forces in Syria approach the border - Haaretz
10 November 2017
The Iranian military is said to have established a compound at a site used by the Syrian army outside El-Kiswah, 14 km (8 miles) south of Damascus.
'We retain absolute freedom of action,' Avigdor Lieberman says at northern border one day after Russian defense minister called Iran's presence 'legitimate', says Israel won't allow Iran to maintain presence
December 9, 2019
Saad Hariri condemns Khazali's visit to Lebanon
February 10, 2018
Iranian drone enters Israel airspace near Beit Shean and is downed by an Apache helicopter, it was armed, an April report will show.
February 14, 2018
Akram al-Kaabi, the head of Harakat al-Nujaba, made the remarks to reporters in southern Beirut after visiting the tomb of late Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh,
"Iran has further entrenched its presence in Syria with the establishment of a second permanent military base outside Damascus, according to satellite images of the site."
A 3rd Khordad system is delivered from Iran to Syria to the T-4 base. An airstrike destroys it.
Israel girds for Iranian response. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stressed on Monday military preparedness and security will need to be bolstered, taking the cue from Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi who threatened just hours prior that Israel will regret the "misdeed" of striking at the T-4 Airbase in Syria—an attack which claimed the lives of seven Iranian soldiers.
Up to 30 rockets are fired by Iran toward Israel from Syria, Israel strikes up to 50 targets with planes and artillery.
Russia is considering trying to keep Iranian forces and their allies from Israel's ... According to the report, Russia decided to work on a deal to remove the forces.
Airstrike hits Kataib Hezbollah HQ near Albukamal
Syria accuses Israel of striking the T-4 or Tiyas base.
July 23, 2018
Israel uses David’s Sling air defense for first time against two OTR-21 Tochka missiles. The missiles fall short and one David’s Sling interceptor self-destructs, the other falls in Syria.
August 31, 2018
Iran moves short-range ballistic missiles to Iraq
Israel says it has struck Iranian targets 200 times in Syria
Israeli airstrikes in Latakia lead Syria to use an S-200 that hits a Russian airplane.
Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, the defense minister addresses the Iranian attack on bases in the Golan Heights on Wednesday night and Israel's response; 'They must understand that if it rains here, it will pour there,' he warns. Syas Israel hit almost entire Iranian infrastructure.
Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad fires rockets at Israel
Israel Minister Miri Regev travels to UAE
Katz attends international transport conference in Oman
'Russia and Iran poised to exploit US withdrawal,' context map of role of Iran-backed militias in Syria, December 22, 2018
Israeli says its airstrikes hit targets transferring weapons from Iran to Hezbollah via Syria
Departure of US Defense Secretary Mattis. Mattis had cautioned against Israeli airstrikes in Iraq according to sources.
January 11, 2019
Gadi Eizenkot says Israel has struck more than 1,000 Iranian targets in Syria.
January 20, 2019
Iranian IRGC Quds Force operatives fire a rocket at Israel, it is intercepted by Iron Dome. Israel strikes targets in Syria on January 21.
Netanyahu says Iran is lying when it says Israeli strikes have no affect, but says Iran has achieved 90 percent of its goals in Syria.
US sanctions Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba.
Iraqi forces say they thwarted an attempt to fire at Camp Taji, Iraq
Islamic Jihad Ziyad Nakhalah threatens ceasefire, says it can target Israeli cities
IRGC Aerospace commander tells Iraq that Iran is ready to transfer experience to Iraq.
Pompeo flies to Baghdad to warn of Iranian threats
On 12 May 2019, four commercial ships were damaged off Fujairah's coast in the Gulf of Oman.
Security alert issued in Iraq for US citizens.
Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba has been demanding that U.S. troops leave Iraq for quite some time. On May 12, Nujaba’s leaders proclaimed, "Confrontation with the United States will only stop once it is eliminated from the region, along with the Zionist entity.”
Rocket attack from Iraq targets Saudi Arabia's Al-Duadmi oil facilities. It may have been fired by Kataib Hezbollah.
Rocket lands near Green Zone.
Daily Beast reports Kataib Hezbollah behind rocket attack near Green Zone.
Iran condemns Bahrain meeting of US "peace plan" as "betrayal"
Two tankers attacked in Gulf of Oman
Mortars land near Balad air force base
Rockets land near Camp Taji, Iraq
Iran shoots down Global Hawk drone
Bahrain hosts US economic peace summit. Israel attends.
Bahrain embassy attacked in Baghdad.
US carries out cyber attack on Kataib Hezbollah.
Israel FM attends climate conference in Abu Dhabi, "This is the first visit of a senior Israeli government minister to an Arab country since the Bahrain Conference."
Netanyahu warns Iran F-35s can reach anywhere
Israel Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Bahrain's Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa meet in Washington.
Unidentified projectiles, allegedly from drones, strike near Amerli Iraq against PMU target
PMU reports a drone attack on a munitions warehouse at Camp Asraf in Diyala, Iraq.
Camp Falcon in Iraq, site of a PMU base, is hit with an airstrike, satellite images on August 14 show the area after the attack.
Image Sat International releases photos of the Camp Falcon (Saqr) site "An airstrike was likely behind the explosions in a weapons depot belonging to an Iranian-backed Shiite militia south of Baghdad on Monday, an assessment by ImageSat International (ISI) found on Wednesday."
PMU base near Balad Air Force Base reports it was struck by an unidentified drone.
Netanyahu in Ukraine hints that Israel has struck in Iraq: “We will act — and currently are acting — against them, wherever it is necessary,” he warned.
PMU deputy Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis blames Israel for attacks on PMU in Iraq
Israel alleges a ‘killer drone’ team attempted to launch drones near the Golan but was interdicted.
Israel strikes a ‘killer drone’ team of Hezbollah in Syria south of Damascus. Hezbollah says they recovered an Israeli drone in Beirut. Israel says that “thanks to a substantial intelligence effort, an Iranian attack was thwarted and harm to Israel was prevented. Iran's proxies attempted in the past few days to launch killer drones at Israeli territory. An intelligence effort exposed the preparations of the force lead by Soleimani, in an Iranian structure near Damascus and made possible the thwarting of the attack. The Quds Force is continuing its efforts to destabilize the region. We are continuing our effort to stop the Quds Force’s attempts to harm Israel and her citizens.”
Israel releases details on Hezbollah operatives of the ‘killer drones’ working with Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in Syria.
Israel accuses Iran’s Quds Force of seeking to advance Hezbollah’s rocket conversion program and precision guidance.
Barak Ravid: "Israel knows about the Iranian effort to transfer ballistic missiles to Shiite militias in Iraq for several weeks and is following it closely, Israeli officials tell me...Israel thinks Iran has started transferring ballistic missiles to Iraq due to Israeli airstrikes on Iranian bases in Syria and the growing difficulties to operate there freely, Officials tell me."
Hezbollah fires three anti-tank missiles at Israel near Avivim army base.
Airstrikes on the Imam Ali base near Albukamal destroy several warehouses. ImageSat International releases images of the attack. A number of rockets are fired from Syria towards Israel by Shi’ite militias operating with the IRGC, the rockets fall short.
IRGC Aerospace commander Hajizadeh: Iran stands Palestinians, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen against America
25 drones and 9 cruise missiles attack Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
ImageSat International images show construction ongoing at the Imam Ali base near Albukamal.
Israel FM Katz meets unnamed Arab counterpart in New York
Iraqi PM Adel Abdul Mahdi blames Israel for attacks on PMU. "Iraq's premier has said for the first time that his government had "indications" Israel was behind some attacks on paramilitary bases this summer, but stopped short of making an explicit accusation."
Iranian IRGC chief Salami says destroying Israel is an achievable goal.
October 1, 2019
Al Qaim Border crossing between Iraq-Syria is opened.
Protests erupt across Baghdad and southern Iraq, 100 killed in a week.
Israel FM pushes non-aggression pact with Arab states
Pompeo says supports Israel's right to act in Syria
Israel representative attends maritime security conference in Bahrain.
Israel Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi warns of fragile situation in north and south, and discusses Iranian strategic challenge.
Iran accuses Israel of secret meeting with Bahrain.
October 25, 2019
Protests erupt across Baghdad and southern Iraq, over 300 will eventually be killed
Qais Khazali vows revenge after commander of Asaib Ahl al-Haq killed in Missan. "At the funeral procession of Alyawi and his brother Issam, apparently killed in the same incident.
'His blood is on America and Israel's hands, but I will take revenge -- many times over,' Khazaali told mourners, holding back tears as he stood next to their wailing mother.
Israel blamed for deaths in Iraq. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, also appealed to the public to “confront the ongoing sedition,” which aims to undermine the government of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Press TV reports.
October 28, 2019
Netanyahu says that Iran is seeking ways to attack Israel from Yemen
Rocket hits near US embassy
Chinese media report that a David Sling interceptor that was fired in July 2018 had fallen into hands of the Syrian regime and then Russia.
Blue Flag exercise takes place with F-35s
US CENTCOM chief Kenneth McKenzie visits Israel
November 12, 2019
Syrian media reports airstrike near Mezzeh in Damascus targeting Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Akram al-Ajouri. The same day Israel strikes senior PIJ commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata in Gaza, setting off two days of fighting and 450 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza. It is later revealed that on "Nov. 12 on the home of Islamic Jihad's deputy leader Akram al-Ajouri in the Mezzeh neighborhood of Damascus. Al-Ajouri himself was left unscathed while his son and another person reportedly were killed and another 10 people were wounded.
According to the Syrian news agency on the day of the attack: 'At 4:14am, Israeli fighter jets arrived over the Galilee and fired three missiles at Damascus.'"
US Air Force head David Goldfein visits Israel.
November 18, 2019
ImageSat International released photos of Iran’s Imam Ali base near Albukamal in Syria saying it is still under construction. Images are from November 17.
Iran FM Zarif calls Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad Nakhala to congratulate him on war with Israel
According to the Russian Foreign ministry, "(Israeli) fighter jets reportedly crossed Iraqi and Jordanian airspace [and attacked near Albukamal]."
Sirens sound in several Golan communities in the northern Golan at 4:52am. SANA reports explosions in Damascus at 5am near an airport and that Syrian air defense has confronted air-to-surface missiles. At 5:31am the Israeli IDF says four launches were detected and intercepted. "According to Russia, Israeli missiles struck targets 18km south of the Syrian capital and explosions were heard in the area of Damascus airport."
US Lead Inspector General Report: "USCENTCOM assessed that Iranian backed forces in Syria might look to target U.S. military personnel or its partner forces in Syria, if they view the U.S. as complicit in Israeli strikes on its forces in Syria....CJTF-OIR and the DoS reported that the air restrictions hurt the Coalition’s ability to counter the ISIS threat in Iraq, specifically reducing observation and monitoring by ISR assets."
On Iraq the Lead Inspector General report says "According to media reports, suspected Israeli airstrikes on Iranian-aligned militia bases in Iraq in July and August elicited a rebuke from Iraqi parliamentarians and resulted in Iraqi government-imposed air restrictions on all foreign aircraft flying over Iraqi airspace, including Coalition aircraft."
Israel says it struck "dozens of military targets of the Iranian Quds Force and the Syrian Armed Forces, including surface-to-air missiles, headquarters, weapons warehouses and military bases," in response to the November 19 rocket fire. "During the IDF strike, a Syrian air defense missile was fired, despite clear warnings to refrain from such fire. Consequently, a number of Syrian aerial defense batteries were destroyed. Yesterday’s Iranian attack towards Israel is further clear proof of the purpose of the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, which threatens Israeli security, regional stability and the Syrian regime." SANA in Damascus shows photos of residential buildings damaged. Russia says "the Israel Air Force fired some 40 cruise missiles at targets in the Damascus suburbs."
Russia reveals information about four alleged IDF attacks in the past 10 days, "even saying it used Jordanian airspace to carry out one of them."
Increased clashes between pro-Hezbollah, pro-Amal supporters and protesters in Beirut.
France Defense Minister in Manama and Abu Dhabi warns of US disengagement from region and lack of response to Abqaiq attack.
"Iran's aggression in our region, and against us, continues," Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a base in the Golan. He was speaking on the same day US General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in the country to meet IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi.
Reuters article describes September 14 Iran attack on Saudi Arabia, "These people said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved the operation, but with strict conditions: Iranian forces must avoid hitting any civilians or Americans."
Iran's IRGC commander Salami threatens Israel.
Erdogan in Qatar to discuss new base while S-400's test radar in Turkey against F-16s.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held talks on Monday in Riyadh with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.
Netanyahu warns of more attacks by Iran.
Iran has the ability to strike Israel and would probably use long-range ballistic missiles if it were to carry out an attack, US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said on Saturday, adding he did not have any particular knowledge of an Iranian plan to attack.
Chairman of Joint Chiefs Milley on multi-day visit to Israel, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq to show US is committed to region.
Naftali Bennet "pushed for widespread attack in Syria 10 days ago (in response to rocket fire) against recommendation of top IDF brass, Netanyahu backed him up. Army Radio's military correspondent reports."
Iran IRGC member Esmaeil Kousari (Kowsari) blames Israel for protests.
Oman Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi meets Javad Zarif.
President Hassan Rouhani says Iran seeks to work with Oman and puts forward Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) initiative, hints at new relations with Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia.
Iran seeks meeting in Japan.
Iran announced joint naval drill with Russia and China, according to Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi.
- Iranian base at Albukamal allegedly hit with airstrikes
- NYT: Iran moving missiles to Iraq
- ImageSat: Quds Force in Syria strike aftermath
- Hezbollah involved in negotiations for next Iraq PM
- Netanyahu: Israel actively countering Iranian aggression, meets Pompeo in Portugal
- "Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi says Tehran’s proposed plan for ensuring security in the Persian Gulf aims to reduce tensions in the strategic region." - Zarif: "Iran does not see any point in the continuation of the war and siege on Yemen, welcomes peaceful solutions and encourages all parties to move forward in this area and supports initiatives that call for dialogue."
- France, Germany and the United Kingdom said Wednesday that Iran's developments of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles go against a UN Security Council resolution calling on Tehran not to undertake any activity related to such missiles.
- Pentagon warns of possible Iranian aggression, "DOD considering sending thousands more troops to the Middle East to beef up air defense capabilities in face of Iranian moves including transfer of short-range missiles into Iraq: US officials. The most realistic option for now: 4,000 to 7,000." - Barbara Starr.
- Rumors of an Iranian base in Qamishli
- Images of T4 base show Iran delivering anti-air missiles and cruise missiles according to report
Netanyahu meets Pompeo in Portugal
Israel carries out an unannounced missile propulsion test
Iran FM Javad Zarif claims that Israel tested a "nuke missile"
US sanctions Qais Khazali and other Iraqi militia linked members. "Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated three leaders of Iran-backed militias in Iraq that opened fire on peaceful protests, killing dozens of innocent civilians. OFAC designated Qais al-Khazali, Laith al-Khazali, and Husayn Falih ‘Aziz al-Lami pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818 for their involvement in serious human rights abuse in Iraq."
Reports of mass killing of protesters in Baghdad and other cities by gunmen.
After being sanctioned by the US, Qais al-Khazali, leader of Iraqi Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq militia says US, Israel, UAE and Saudi Arabia will pay a heavy price for causing instability among Iraqi protests.
Naftali Bennett: "We need to move from containment to attack." "We say to Iran: Syria will become your Vietnam,"
SOHR: Five pro-Iran militia killed in airstrike near Syrian-Iraq border
Rockets hit military base near Baghdad. "An army complex that hosts U.S. forces next to Baghdad International Airport was hit by several rockets on December 9, wounding six Iraqi troops, the military said in a statement."
IRGC Commander adviser Morteza Ghorbani: We will flatten Israel from Lebanon if it commits even a small mistake against Iran.
Russian media reports Su-35s scrambled from Khmeimim to stop Israel attack on T-4
Radio Farda: "There have been at least nine attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq in the past six weeks."
"The US military strongly believes Iranian-backed groups inside Iraq are responsible according to a US official with direct knowledge of the recent incidents." - CNN
Iran's Imam Ali base: "Iran is building an underground tunnel to store missiles and large-scale weapons, according to satellite images obtained by Fox News and Western intelligence sources who reviewed the information."
Coalition: "At 6:36pm (Baghdad Time) on December 11th, two rockets impacted near the military training facility at the Baghdad Airport. No personnel were harmed and no facility was struck. The initial assessment and investigation of the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center attack is on-going. Iraqi Security Forces are leading the response. We take the recent rocket attacks in Iraq seriously as do our Iraqi Security Forces partners, who are investigating these events. We have made clear that attacks on U.S. and Coalition personnel and facilities will not be tolerated and we retain the right to defend ourselves."
IRGC commander "In this case, we will tell them [enemies] that we will chase, find and take revenge on you...resisting against enemy is the key of dignity and survival of the country." He urged the arrogant powers and their regional allies to stop their hostilities and plots against Iran. “We tell you that if you do not abandon (your hostile acts), we will set fire to your interests,” he said.
Fars News: "Anti-Iran protests in Iraq, virtual reality or deception by US and allies." The article argues "The first Americans plan was to carry out a military coup through Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi, the commander of the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service, whose dismissal in September sparked much controversy and failed the US plan. He was fired because of his links to Mohammed Dahlan, who is linked to the Zionist regime and is currently a consultant to bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE's national security adviser."
Pompeo slams attack that killed Iraqi soldiers ""Iran’s proxies have recently conducted several attacks against bases where Iraqi Security Forces are co-located with US & International Coalition personnel...We strongly condemn the Iranian proxy attack that wounded five Iraqi soldiers near the Baghdad Airport this week. To Iran’s leaders - the U.S. will respond decisively if #Iran or its proxies harm U.S. personnel or our Iraqi partners."
Thousands of IDF troops drill in northern Israel as Israel continues to be concerned about rising threats.
The new rocket threat to Israel , precision guided munitions by Jonathan Schanzer, Commentary
UAE FM Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Israel PM Netanyahu exchange Twitter greetings.
After lull in attacks, from Russian pressure, airstrikes target Iran in Syria - Ynet calls it a game of "cat and mouse." Report notes "in 2018, Hajizadeh oversaw a shipment of anti-aircraft missile batteries to Syria, which was targeted in alleged Israeli raid. Foreign sources reported that seven Iranian officers were killed in the attack."
IRGC's Liwa Fatemiyoun release video near Golan threatening Israel, photo also shows them near Albukamal.
Iran says IRGC Aerospace commander Hajizadeh not harmed in December 22 airstrike.
Lt.-Gen. Kochavi acknowledges in public for the first time that Israel has struck Iranian targets in Iraq. Says Israel preparing for conflict with Iran. “There is a possibility that we will face a limited confrontation with Iran and we are preparing for it...We will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria, or in Iraq...Iraq is undergoing a civil war, when the Quds Force is operating there on a daily basis, when the country itself has turned into an ungoverned area. Advanced weapons are being smuggled by the Quds Force in Iraq on a monthly basis and we can’t allow that,” he said. Hints at failure of US and Gulf regimes to confront Iran's threats in Gulf.
Rocket attack kills US contractor and wounds forces at K-1 base "One U.S. civilian contractor was killed and several U.S. service members and Iraqi personnel were wounded in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk hosting Coalition troops, on Dec. 27 at 7:20 p.m. (Iraqi time). Iraqi Security Forces are leading the response and investigation. Further information will be released as it becomes available," says Coalition.
US targets five Kataib Hezbollah targets. "The five targets include three KH locations in Iraq and two in Syria. These locations included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on OIR coalition forces," the Pentagon says. One target is Al-Qaim base.
US State Dept statement on airstrikes. "In the past two months alone, there have been 11 attacks on Iraqi bases that host coalition forces. And then the most recent attack, which was a barrage of rockets on the base near Kirkuk, killed one U.S. citizen and injured American and Iraqi soldiers...these were defensive strikes. But we are not going to let Iran get away with using a proxy force to an attack – to attack American interests, and we will hold Iran accountable for these attacks, which we have done."
PMU Commander Qassim Musleh told Al-Monitor "at least 27 fighters from the two brigades had been killed and 37 injured. He noted in a message Dec. 30 that some were still buried under the rubble." He slammed the government’s “weakness” over the years and said this was the reason the “United States and Israel” were able to continue their “interference” in the country.
Netayahu says "I intend in the coming years to conclude normalization and peace agreements with a number of Arab countries."
After funerals, Hadi al-Amiri, Faleh al-Fayyad, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandiss and Qais Khazali, lead protesters in Iraq to US embassy, burning outside posts and throwing rockets at compound and erecting flags.
Pompeo phones Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince and says he had a "productive conversation with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss the attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq on Friday. The U.S. will continue to work together to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior."
US deploys 100 Marines to Baghdad and sends 750 paratroopers to Middle East. Trump condemns attack on embassy and Pompeo says US will secure its personnel, "The attack today was orchestrated by terrorists – Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and Qays al-Khazali – and abetted by Iranian proxies – Hadi al Amari and Faleh al-Fayyad. All are pictured below outside our embassy."
Report: "These 650 paratroopers from 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment deployed from Pope Army Airfield, N.C. today. The rest of brigade—some 3,000+ soldiers—are 'ready to deploy,' in coming days if needed, 82nd Airborne Division statement says." 82nd Airborne personnel board C-17 Globemasters for the flight.