Israel downs Iranian drone and strikes Syria

F-16 fighter jet

F-16 fighter jet Flash 90

On Saturday, the IDF announced that it had carried out a "large-scale" aerial attack inside Syria, after back-and-forth clashes overnight in which an Iranian drone was shot down in Syrian territory and an Israeli F-16 was downed by Syrian antiaircraft fire.

In a statement, the US State Department said it was "deeply concerned about today's escalation of violence over Israel's border and strongly supports Israel's sovereign right to defend itself.".

Israel's military said the attacks were in retaliation for the violation of its airspace by an Iranian drone.

"Israel's face is turned toward peace, but we will continue to defend ourselves with determination against any attack on us and against any Iranian attempt to base itself in Syria or anywhere else", Netanyahu said.

Israel had earlier accused Iran of flying a drone into Israeli airspace from Syria - sparking the entire exchange - a claim which Iran denied.

"A few minutes ago, (Israeli aircraft) ... targeted the Syrian Aerial Defence System and Iranian targets in Syria", a military statement said. "This is a severe attack and a breach of Israeli sovereignty perpetrated by Iran".

In response to the provocation, Israel attacked the drone's command center.

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In response, Syria shot down more than one Israeli fighter jets, according to the official.

According to the Israeli military, the confrontation began with a drone entering its airspace. "Iran is dragging the region into an adventure in which it doesn't know how it will end", he said in a statement. "Massive Syrian Anti-Air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe", Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, Israeli military spokesperson, said.

Netanyahu also said he spoke with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Both pilots ejected and were injured, one critically.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has advisory presence in Syria at the request of the country's legitimate and constitutional government", Qassemi said. Some Israeli observers have said it is hard to imagine that the Russians there would not have known about the Iranian drone or the subsequent antiaircraft fire. He said that Syria fired more than 24 surface-to-air missiles at Israeli jets.

He also threatened the United States, saying that his country had the military power to destroy all American bases in the region. Last year, Iran acknowledged that it had deployed Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missiles. Air raid sirens were triggered in residential areas on Israel's northern border.

The army said it was "monitoring events and is fully prepared for further action, depending on assessments and necessity".

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Netanyahu has been seeking to persuade Russian Federation to limit Iran's presence near Israeli territory and to stop it from entrenching itself militarily in Syria.

"We waited for it to cross into our territory", said IAF chief of air staff Brigadier General Tomer Bar who stressed that it was important for Israel "to get our hands on the drone that was operated by the Iranians".

The officer said: "Yes, it was a red alert and the situation here has been escalating day by day".

Israel remain technically at war with Syria and occupies a swath of the strategic Golan Heights that it seized in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the worldwide community.

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

Syrian civlians flee from reported regime air strikes in the rebel-held town of Jisreen, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 8, 2018.

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