Israel launches heavy Syria strikes after F-16 crashes

Israel launches heavy Syria strikes after F-16 crashes

The two pilots of the Israeli F-16 ejected before it crashed in northern Israel; both were reported as "safe" but one was left seriously injured.

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

The Israeli Air Force then retaliated for the incursion by dispatching its fighter jets to hit government and Iranian targets in Syria, only for one of its F-16s to crash to the ground after coming under heavy anti-aircraft fire.

Iran denies having conventional armed forces in Syria, reports the wire service. Responding anti-aircraft fire led to the downing of an Israeli fighter jet.

According to the Israeli military, the confrontation began with the drone entering its airspace before being intercepted by a combat helicopter.

In a statement on its web site Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was concerned about the Israeli attack and said it was unacceptable to create threats to the safety of Russian military personnel in Syria. It was not clear if the jet crashed as a direct result of the Syrian fire. "We didn't know what was happening, we heard helicopters and planes", said Yosi Sherer, 51, who was staying at a hostel in Beit Shean.

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

"The creation of any threat to the lives and safety of Russian military servicemen now in Syria on the invitation of its lawful government to help fight terrorists is absolutely unacceptable", the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Israeli military released grainy black and white footage of what it said was the drone's control vehicle in Syria being destroyed.

"Iran is responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty", Conricus said on Twitter.

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"At dawn, the Zionist enemy carried out a new aggression against one of our military bases in the centre of the country", state news agency SANA reported.

The current violence is the first direct engagement between Iran and Israel, said Sami Nader, head of the Beirut-based Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs. This morning Iran brazenly violated Israel's sovereignty.

Syrian Army officials said the drone had been carrying out a routine mission against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, over Syrian airspace, according to the news site Al-Manar.

Netanyahu said he had spoken by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that they agreed Israel-Russia military coordination in regard to Syria would continue.

Israel has long warned about the risk of conflict as Iranian forces and their allies, including Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group militia, have dug in on Syrian territory and approached the boundary with the Israeli-held portion of the Golan Heights.

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.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu took members of his security cabinet for a tour of the Israeli-occupied side, where they were briefed by the military.

"We want peace, but are prepared for any scenario, and suggest that nobody tries us", he said.

"Before, it was done through proxies", for example by the Syrian regime or the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, Nader said.

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