Israel hits Syrian targets after F-16 crashes in anti-aircraft fire

11 February, 2018, 05:24 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Sputnik  Timur Abdullaev      
                                               Joost Hiltermann

Israel and Iran moved closer to confrontation in Syria as rising tensions erupted into the most serious standoff between the sides since the Syrian civil war began seven years ago.

Anti-aircraft fire downed an Israeli warplane returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria earlier on Saturday in the most serious confrontations yet between Israel and Iranian-backed forces based across the border.

In response to the jet crash, Israel said it attacked 12 additional targets "that are part of Iran's military establishment in Syria".

The incidents marked the most serious confrontations in Syria between Israel and Iranian-backed forces that have established a major foothold in the country while fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad in a almost seven-year-old civil war.

"Over 1,000 civilian casualties from airstrikes were reported in the first week of February alone" in the Syrian government offensives. He added that there was no Iranian or Russian anti-aircraft fire. "My feeling is that they don't have an interest in escalation".

Conricus, IDF spokesman, maintains Iran is the aggressor and Israel's military is "ready for all scenarios".

While Israel has once again routinely blamed the entire episode on the Iranians, Blumenthal believes Damascus might have finally lost its patience over constant violations of its sovereignty and the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights.

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The attack came after Israel shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country.

Taunting the United States, he said they would be better "to leave the region before its defeat".

Referring to the downed Israeli F-16, an official in the pro-Assad alliance said a "message" had been delivered to Israel. Across the border the event was taken as a victory, with dozens of Lebanese celebrating and waving Hezbollah's flag.

Hezbollah said in a statement: "Today's developments mean the old equations have categorically ended".

Israel said it had sent its jets into Syria after shooting down an Iranian drone flying over Israeli territory on Saturday. He said that Syria fired more than 24 surface-to-air missiles at Israeli jets.

The Israeli leader said he had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin whose country supports the Syrian regime.

"The Russian side called for any steps, which might trigger a new spiral of unsafe confrontations for all in the region, to be avoided", the Kremlin press service said.

Iran Will Stand By Syria
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahran Qasemi, however, described the Israeli claim as "ridiculous". On other hand, Lebanon has protested against the use of its airspace by Israel to target Syria .

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahran Qasemi, however, described the Israeli claim as "ridiculous".

Israeli politicians from across the spectrum largely backed the government's response. Tzipi Livni of the opposition Zionist Union faction said the government must do more to build global backing for Israeli attacks in Syria.

The Syrian people are suffering "though one of the most violent periods in almost seven years of conflict", said the United Nations statement.

"An Israeli military spokesman said Israel did not seek escalation in the region, calling its action a defensive effort triggered by an Iranian act of aggression".

It said the Israeli strikes had targeted drones used against "terrorist organisations, primarily Daesh", using an alternative name for the Islamic State group.

Netanyahu says he also spoke to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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.

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