JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said that 1 of its F-16 fighter jets crashed early Saturday in northern Israel right after coming below heavy Syrian antiaircraft fire and that it had seized an Iranian drone that penetrated its airspace from Syria.
The events appeared to be Israel’s 1st direct engagement with Iranian forces across the increasingly volatile boundary in the Golan Heights, risking a new escalation in Syria’s multifaceted seven-year war in the area.
The Israeli military mentioned two pilots had bailed from the downed aircraft “as per procedure.” 1 pilot was severely injured as a result of “an emergency evacuation,” it said.
Israel also mentioned it had carried out a “large scale attack” against the Syrian Aerial Defense Method and Iranian targets in Syria, presumably in response to the downing of the F-16. The military later mentioned that the jet had crashed soon after been targeted by Syrian ground antiaircraft fire.
If confirmed, it would be the 1st time in decades that Syria had shot down an Israeli jet. In the past, Syria has claimed, falsely, that it had shot down Israeli aircraft.
Either way, the jet crash represented a severe blow to Israel’s prestige and could mark a main adjust after years in which Israel has acted against targets in Syria with relative impunity.
The Israeli military stated in statement that it “sees the Iranian attack and the Syrian response as a severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty,” and added that it was “ fully ready for further action.”
Right after the initial attack on the drone launching facilities, Israel stated later Saturday that it had attacked 12 added targets, such as 3 aerial defense batteries and 4 Iranian targets “that are element of Iran’s military establishment in Syria.”
Later Saturday morning, clashes appeared to be continuing. There have been new Israeli airstrikes around the capital, Damascus, according to Syrian state media and Damascus residents.
The sounds of explosions could be heard near Damascus, to the south and to the west, residents said. There was also what sounded like the launch of rockets or missiles from Mezze air base, located in Damascus.
Syrian state tv mentioned the Syrian military’s antiaircraft guns have been responding to Israeli airstrikes.
Israel has lengthy warned about the danger of conflict as a outcome of Iranian-backed forces, like the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah militia, digging in in Syrian territory and approaching the boundary with the Israeli-held portion of the Golan Heights. Israel has been lobbying world powers to distance these forces from the border places.
Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 war and fought off an invasion there in 1973. Even though the region remained quiet for decades, it has grow to be a increasing flash point throughout Syria’s war.
Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria throughout the war, largely targeting what it says are advanced weapons shops or convoys taking weapons to Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon, but occasionally reportedly hitting Syrian government facilities involved in weapons development.
Syria’s government has constantly stated that it would respond at a suitable time and spot, and it has sometimes returned fire with antiaircraft guns and missiles.
The Israeli military mentioned that a combat helicopter intercepted the Iranian drone just before dawn on Saturday. The drone was believed to have originated from an airfield close to Palmyra, Syria.
“The aircraft was identified by the Aerial Defense Systems at an early phase and was below surveillance until the interception,” the military said, adding that it “ attacked the Iranian aircraft’s launch components in Syrian territory.”
Later Saturday, air-raid sirens sounded again in the Israeli-held Golan Heights and in the Galilee area of northern Israel, even though there were no quick reports of incoming fire.
The clash showed the extent to which Syria has turn into a battlefield among Israel and Iran, amongst a lot of other intersecting conflicts involving foreign combatants.
Two days ago, United States forces struck pro-government forces that, according to reports, incorporated some Russian military contractors, as properly as Iran-backed Syrian fighters.
In addition, Turkey is attacking United States-backed Kurds and threatening to escalate that conflict, possibly risking conflict between two NATO allies.
Published at Sat, 10 Feb 2018 09:53:59 +0000