Bahrain Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa

By: The Daily Star

SourceThe Daily Star

DUBAI: Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifa, on Thursday backed Israel’s right to “defend itself” after the Israeli military said it struck dozens of Iranian military targets in Syria Wednesday night.

“As long as Iran has breached the status quo in the region and invaded countries with its forces and missiles, any state in the region, including Israel, is entitled to defend itself by destroying sources of danger,” the minister, whose country is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, said on his Twitter account.

Since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, Israel has repeatedly targeted positions of the Syrian army and Lebanon’s Shiite movement Hezbollah backing it inside the country.

The latest escalation came overnight, when Israel’s army said it hit dozens of Iranian military targets in Syria.

Israel carried out the raids after it said 20 rockets were fired from Syria at its forces in the occupied Golan Heights at around midnight.

It blamed the rocket fire on Iran’s Quds force.

Syria’s foreign ministry said the Israeli attacks on its territory marked a “new phase” of direct involvement in the country’s seven-year conflict.

Syria has had strained relations with most of the Arab world since launching a deadly crackdown on demonstrators in March 2011 and was eventually suspended from the Arab League.

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, view Iran as the chief threat to the region.