February 21, 2018

Israel launches heavy air strike in Syria after F-16 crash

11 February 2018, 05:16 | Kara Nash

Israeli fighter jet shot down in Syria

AP Top News at 12:40 am EST

On the way back to Israel, an Israeli F-16 was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

"The Secretary-General stresses once again that all concerned in Syria and the region have a responsibility and must abide by global law and relevant Security Council resolutions".

The military says its planes struck 12 targets on Saturday including three aerial defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran's military establishment in Syria. Gen. Ronen Manelis said in a report by Haaretz that the drone "is in our possession".

Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said on Saturday that "all of our warnings regarding Iran have proven correct".

Syria state television later cited a Syrian military official as saying that Israeli "aggression" targeted the Syrian army base in the central region of the country.

IDF spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus told CNN that one Israeli aircraft came down, with all others returning safely to base.

"The question is whether the Iranians will respond or lower the fire at this stage", said Ephraim Kam, a senior researcher at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies.

Earlier Saturday, the Israeli army said its forces shot down an Iranian drone launched from Syria and also hit several targets inside the war-torn neighboring country.

"Syria's legitimate government has every right to defend its soil and territory against any foreign aggressor", Qasemi said, state TV reported.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Saturday that the US was "deeply concerned about today's escalation of violence over Israel's border", but supported Israel's right to defend itself. "Iran's calculated escalation of threat and its ambition to project its power and dominance, places all the people of the‎ region - from Yemen to Lebanon - at risk", she said, echoing Netanyahu's remarks.

Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Ministry said that "the latest developments and attacks on Syria were viewed with serious concern" and that the loss to Syria and damage resulting from them were being examined.

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He added that "Iran does not have a military presence in Syria , and has only sent military advisers at the request of the Syrian government". "This is a severe attack and a breach of Israeli sovereignty perpetrated by Iran".

Conricus declined to give details on the drone's presumed mission or whether it was armed. A joint operation room of Syria and its allies, Iran and Hezbollah, denied the drone entered Israel airspace.

Israel has repeatedly warned in recent weeks against the presence of Iranian forces in neighbouring Syria.

In a statement, Hezbollah said that the downing of the Israeli F-16 marked a "new strategic phase" in the conflict.

Tensions ratcheted up on Saturday as an Israeli fighter jet that was part of a squadron launching air strikes on Syria was downed amid anti-aircraft missile fire, according to the Israel Defense Forces. "We are willing, prepared, and capable to exact a heavy price on anyone that attacks us".

The Israeli military said it was not looking to escalate the situation but was ready for various scenarios.

Israel has attacked inside Syria frequently since the civil war there began in March 2011, targeting Syrian military posts and arms shipments bound for Hezbollah.

The Israeli military declined to comment.

Israel then launched a second bombing raid in Syria.

The incident was sparked by what Israel said was an Iranian drone infiltrating its air space.

A Russian warplane was shot down last week in Idlib.

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