Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed on Thursday that Iran does not want "new tensions" in the Middle East, after Israel carried out strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.

"Iran has always sought to reduce tensions in the region, trying to strengthen security and stability," Rouhani told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a telephone call, according to a statement on the website of Iran's presidency quoted by AFP.

Rouhani did not mention Israel's strikes early on Thursday in Syria, or the Iranian missile attack on Israeli posts in the Golan Heights which preceded the Israeli retaliation.

Russia’s defense ministry said earlier on Thursday that Israel's strikes on Syria saw 28 planes take part in raids with a total of around 60 missiles fired.

"28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft were used in the attack, which released around 60 air-to-ground missiles over various parts of Syria. Israel also fired more than 10 tactical ground-to-ground missiles," the ministry said in a statement, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

At least 23 fighters, including five Syrian regime troops and 18 other allied forces, were killed in the attacks, the anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday.

The Britain-based observatory said the regime troops killed in the strikes included an officer, adding that the other casualties included Syrians and foreigners.

Iran’s attack on the Golan Heights was widely condemned by global leaders.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening said Israeli forces attacked Iranian and Assad regime targets inside of Syria in response to a serious escalation by Iranian forces.

“Iran crossed a red line. We responded accordingly. The IDF carried out a very extensive operation against Iranian targets in Syria,” he said.