“We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory,” the military statement said. “We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory.”

Until now Israel has largely refrained from public admissions of its covert military operations in neighboring Syria, in order to avoid large-scale involvement in the eight-year civil war.

The Syrian military said Israel carried out intensive airstrikes with successive waves of guided missiles shortly after 1 a.m., but added that Syrian air defenses destroyed most of the missiles before they reached their targets.