Why are Israel and Iran fighting in Syria, in 300 words

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Israel carried out the raids after it said Iran's Al-Quds force fired 20 rockets, either Fajr or Grad type, at its forces in the Golan.

The White House condemned "Iran after the rocket attack on Golan" and said the United States "strongly supports" Israel's right to "defend" itself.

"It was commanded and ordered by (Quds Force chief General) Qassem Soleimani and it has not achieved its objective", military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters. Israel killed around seven Iranians in April with its strikes in Syria. Syria's foreign ministry said Israel's attacks are the "start of a new phase of aggression" against Syria and will do nothing but "increase tensions in the region".

Tehran is wary of a wider military conflagration with Israel that could jeopardize its military achievements in Syria at a time when it is trying to salvage the global nuclear deal and may be limited in its ability to strike back.

Thousands of Iranians took to the streets on Friday to protest against the decision, with Iran saying that it might resume uranium enrichment at a higher rate within weeks if its benefits from the deal fall flat after the U.S. pullout. Israeli cities would be hit, as might strategic targets in Iran. During the civil war, Israel is believed to have carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria, mainly hitting weapons shipments. Merkel called for talks to be held in a broader format on Iran's ballistic missile programme and its regional activities - including in Syria and Yemen, her office said in a statement.

In the most direct confrontation between Israel and Iran to date, the two regional enemies exchanged fire for hours during a volatile night in the Golan Heights.

An Iranian state television presenter announced the Israeli strikes, sourcing the information to Syria's state-run SANA news agency.

The Guardian said that Trump's announcement that the USA was pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal erupted hostilities in the Middle East, and CNBC said that Iran's economy could spiral because of the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, which would reimpose previous sanctions.

After targeting Iranian units in Syria in retaliation, an Israeli F-16 was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

A tank can be seen on a lorry as it drives on a road near the Israeli side of the border with Syria in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel, May 9, 2018.

"I have established a basic principle: Whoever strikes us, we are going to strike them", Netanyahu said. The problem, however, is that the Iranians are basically determined to build in Syria what they have produced in Lebanon with Hezbollah and 120,000 rockets.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Victory Day, which marks the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany.

The Israeli military released aerial footage Friday of the Iranian military sites in Syria targeted by the Israeli air force. In 1974, Israel and Syria reached a cease-fire and a disengagement deal that froze the conflict lines with the plateau in Israeli hands.

Iran says Israel's repeated attacks are based on "fabricated" reasons. Iran's force of Shia militiamen from Iraq and Central Asia has been useful for controlling Syrian territory but would be little more than cannon fodder against Israel.

The most striking thing about Israel's attacks on Iranian targets has been Russia's muted reaction. But the Israeli Air Force has had to be wary of Russia's ultramodern air-defence umbrella of jets and missiles over Syrian air space.

That Netanyahu, Trump's most ardent supporter in dumping the JCPOA, was in Moscow the day before the attack signals many things - not least the risky complexity of having so many powers at play in such a confined conflict. The bellicose threats against Iran coming from Israel and Saudi Arabia may be leading to a misunderstanding. Iran blames Israel for those strikes, while Israel has not confirmed or denied the attacks.

"The point will come with these actions, where the Iranians will say: we have to push back forcefully, we have to establish deterrence against the Israelis if we want to stay in Syria", said Wimmen.

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