Israel launches retaliatory strike against Iranian targets

Israel has retaliated with force on Thursday (NZ time) after Iran struck Israeli forces in the occupied Golan Heights.

The attack is being carried out by air force planes, and aimed at Iranian targets deep within Syria. There have been several casualties reported as a result.

"The Israeli air force is currently attacking Iranian targets in Syria. Any Syrian attempt to respond will be met with a tough Israeli reaction," an Israeli army spokesperson says.

Syrian state media says shells fired from Israel landed in southern Syria's Quneitra province. Its air defences are reacting to a "new wave of Israeli missiles and is dropping them one by one".

The attack came after Iranian forces on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights fired approximately 20 projectiles or rockets at Israeli targets in the Golan Heights earlier today.

On Tuesday Syrian state media had accused Israel of launching missiles at a target near Damascus, shortly after Donald Trump announced the US would be leaving the Iran nuclear deal. Syrian air defences fired at two Israeli missiles, destroying both, Syrian state news agency SANA said.

Waikato University international relations expert Alexander Gillespie warns further conflict is likely as Israel responds "with a greater amount of force than has been expended against it".

"A direct war is not in Iran's interest - they do not have the military power to defeat Israel - but a series of indirect wars are in their interest," he says.

"Aside from an Israeli reply, as Iran shows its displeasure with the Trump decision, it is quite possible that disturbances will escalate in all of the other areas - the occupied territories, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen."