Bahrain has expressed support for Israel after Tel Aviv hit dozens of military targets in Syria amid Syrian army advances against Takfiri terrorists and other foreign-backed militants.
In a rare expression of support, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa twitted on Thursday that Tel Aviv had a right to “defend itself” after Israel said it carried out some 50 raids inside Syria.
Al-Khalifa copied claims made by Israeli authorities, praising the attack as a response to an Iranian rocket attack from the Syrian territory against Israeli military bases in the occupied Golan Heights.
Israel claimed that the early Thursday assault was its most extensive strike against Syria in decades. Syria’s military said Thursday that the airstrikes had killed three people and destroyed a radar station and an ammunition warehouse.
In a statement carried by state news agency SANA, Syria’s foreign ministry said that the Israeli strikes on its territory were a “direct confrontation” that marked a “new phase” in the country’s seven-year conflict.
Syrian Arab Army Brig. Gen. Ali Mayhoub, who read a statement on Syrian television, said his country’s air defense systems had intercepted “the large part” of the incoming Israeli strikes.
Russia backed up the Syrian military’s claims, saying approximately half of the incoming Israeli missiles had been intercepted by Syrian air defenses.
The Russian defense ministry told local media that 28 Israeli F-15 fighter jets had fired 60 missiles and ground troops had launched 10 surface-to-surface missiles at targets inside Syria.
Israeli officials claimed the attack was a response to a barrage of 20 rockets from Syria at Israeli military outposts in Golan and blamed Iran for the attack.
Iranian officials traditionally do not respond to Israeli claims, saying they do not merit an answer. Nevertheless, an Iranian lawmaker quoted by Lebanon’s Al-Manar television network, denied his country was behind the barrage.
“Iran has nothing to do with the missiles that struck the enemy entity yesterday,” deputy head of parliament’s national security committee Abolfazl Hassan-Baygi reportedly said.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned the Israeli attack on Syria, calling it an attempt by “the main supporter of terrorist groups” in Syria to retaliate their many defeats against the Syrian government.
In a statement on Friday, Qassemi said the terror groups were in fact “proxies” waging a war on behalf of the US, Israel and their regional allies.
Israel has stepped up its attacks on Syrian military positions in what is considered an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy losses and retreating on multiple fronts, most recently from their strongholds in Damascus suburbs.
Israel has been acting as a de facto air force of the militants for some time but its extensive raids Wednesday night were its most brazenly direct engagement in Syria’s fight on terrorism.
Syria has had strained relations with most of the Arab states in the Persian Gulf in recent years, but the Bahraini foreign minister’s support for the Israeli strikes marks a rare, if not unprecedented public stance by an Arab government.
Bahrain is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and the two countries, whose foreign policies are often in lockstep, are known for supporting Takfiri groups fighting to topple the Syrian government.