The Israeli military said it has struck dozens of Iranian targets in Syria, carrying out a “wide-scale” strike in response to rocket fire on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights the day before.
A Britain-based war monitoring group said the Israeli air strikes killed 11 people, including seven non-Syrians who are most likely to be Iranians.
Syrian state media only reported that two civilians were killed.
The Israeli military said its fighter jets hit multiple targets belonging to Iran’s elite Quds Force, including surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses and military bases.
After the Syrian military fired an air defence missile, the Israeli military said a number of Syrian aerial defence batteries were also destroyed.
The death toll of 11 was reported by Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group with a network of activists across Syria.
The observatory said the air strikes targeted arms depots belonging to the Quds Force in the Damascus suburbs of Kisweh and Qudsaya.
Mr Abdurrahman added that several other areas were targeted in Wednesday’s strikes, including the Mazzeh airbase in western Damascus where air defence units are stationed.
Syria’s state SANA news agency said the two civilians were killed by shrapnel when an Israeli missile hit a house in the town of Saasaa, south west of Damascus.
It said several others were wounded, including a girl in a residential building in the suburb of Qudsaya, also west of the Syrian capital.
It claimed that Syrian air defences destroyed most of the Israeli missiles before they reached their targets.
The strikes further burst into the open what has been a long shadow war between Israel and Iran.
The two foes have increasingly clashed over what Israel says is Iran’s deeper presence along its borders.
“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,” the military said in a statement, adding that it would “continue operating firmly and resolutely” against Iran in Syria.
Israel intercepted the four rockets on the Golan Heights on Tuesday, which came amid heightened tensions between Israel and Iranian proxies along its borders.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a series of warnings recently about Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East and has vowed to respond firmly.
“I made it clear: whoever harms us, we will harm them. That’s what we did tonight,” he said early on Wednesday.
“We will continue to aggressively protect Israel’s security.”
Israel’s new hard-line defence minister Naftali Bennett issued an equally firm statement.
“The rules have changed: whoever fires on Israel during the day will not sleep at night,” he said.
“Our message to the leaders of Iran is simple: you are no longer immune. Any place you dispatch your tentacles, we will chop them off.”
The rare rocket fire comes a week after an Israeli air strike against a top Palestinian militant based in Syria.
Akram al-Ajouri, a member of the leadership of the militant Islamic Jihad group who is living in exile, survived the attack but his son and granddaughter were killed.
Israel frequently strikes Iranian interests in Syria.
But last week’s air strike appeared to be a rare assassination attempt of a Palestinian militant in the Syrian capital.
It came the same day as another Israeli air strike killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza, setting off the fiercest round of fighting there in years.
Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel’s northern neighbour, and supports Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.
In Gaza, it supplies Islamic Jihad with cash, weapons and expertise.
Mr Netanyahu has also claimed Iran is using Iraq and far-off Yemen, where Tehran supports Shiite Houthi rebels at war with a Saudi-led coalition backing the government, to plan attacks against Israel.
Hamas also receives some support from Iran.