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Calls for restraint after Israeli raids on ‘Iranians’ in Syria

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Unprecedented clashes between Israel and Iran over Syria have sparked calls for restraint from world leaders worried about the risk of all-out war, even as both sides say they want to avoid a regional conflict.

All eyes will be on any fresh military activity Friday after Israel carried out widespread deadly raids against what it said were Iranian targets in Syria on Thursday in response to rocket fire towards its forces that it blamed on Iran.

The reported exchange of fire came after weeks of rising tensions and followed US President Donald Trump’s decision Tuesday to withdraw from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a move Israel had long sought.

The bombardment led to calls for calm from Russia, France, Germany and Britain and the European Union, while the United States put the blame squarely on Iran and stressed Israel’s right to “self-defence”.

Germany and Britain joined the United States in denouncing the rocket fire towards the Israel-occupied Golan Heights they also said was carried out by Iran, while France reiterated its “unwavering support for Israel’s security”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran had “crossed a red line” and that the resulting bombardment against targets in Syria “was a consequence”.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a telephone call that he did not want “new tensions” in the Middle East.

Rouhani did not mention Israel’s strikes in Syria, or those against the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

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