May 23, 2018

Netanyahu: Israeli strikes a heavy blow to Iran, Syria

11 February 2018, 09:34 | Taylor George

F-16 fighter jet Flash 90

F-16 fighter jet

"We consider it necessary to unconditionally respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and other countries of the region".

Netanyahu added that he had conversations with both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who have agreed that Israeli-Russian security coordination on Syria will continue.

Netanyahu's remarks came as he convened his security chiefs for consultations on Saturday's confrontations which followed Israel's interception of what it said was an Iranian drone launched from Syria.

"This is the broadest attack on Syria's defense systems since [Operation] Peace for the Galilee", Brigadier-General Amnon Ein Dar told Army Radio, referring to Israel's 1982 Lebanon offensive, in which it battled Syrian forces.

Israel carried out major air raids in Syria on Saturday, including against what it described as Iranian targets - the first time it had publicly acknowledged doing so since the war began.

The confrontation was the most serious between arch foes Israel and Iran since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011. "My feeling is that they don't have an interest in escalation". And shortly afterwards, the Israeli military was collecting its charred remains in northern Israel.

"We share the concerns of many throughout the region that Iran's destabilizing activities threaten worldwide peace and security, and we seek greater global resolve in countering Iran's malign activities", he added.

Russia, which backs Assad and maintains a large military presence in the country, called for restraint and appeared to criticize Israel's actions. "Clearly it didn't stop Israel from making sure its messages were received on the other side - that we will not tolerate this kind of thing".

Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, said late on Saturday that the U.S.

"Israel is a staunch ally of the United States, and we support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria", the White House said in a statement.

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In what is believed to be the first time Israel has lost a jet in combat since 2006, Syrian air defenses has shot down Israeli F-16 fighter jet in northern Israel.

"Twelve targets, including three aerial defence batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran's military establishment in Syria were attacked", a military statement said.

Israel has also shot down several drones that previously tried to infiltrate its territory from Syria, but the capture of an Iranian drone and the direct targeting of Iranian sites in response marked a dramatic escalation in the Israeli retaliation.

"The secretary-general is following closely the alarming military escalation throughout Syria and the unsafe spillover across its borders", the United Nations chief's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Conricus warned on Saturday that Syria and Iran were "playing with fire", but stressed that Israel was not seeking an escalation. "Whoever is responsible for this incident is the one who will pay the price".

An Israeli F-16 jet targeted by Syrian anti-aircraft fire crashed in Israeli territory, leading the two pilots to eject from the aircraft.

Israeli planes then struck an Iranian installation in Syria from which, the Israeli military said, the unmanned aircraft had been operated.

According to Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus, Iran will be held accountable for its threatening drone invasion, which the military says is now in Israel's possession - what is left of it. Waiting at the border was a group of Israeli Apache attack helicopters that swiftly downed the drone. "We have been warning for months that the Iranians are not here [in Syria] to fight ISIS [the Islamic State terror organization], but rather to fight Israel".

The F-16 jet went down during a mission that followed an Iranian drone launch into Israeli territory, Israel says.

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