Major Israeli air raids hit 'Iranian targets' in Syria

An official for the pro-Assad alliance said shooting down the plane had sent a "message" to Israel.

An IDF statement described the four Iranian targets as "part of Iran's military establishment in Syria".

"This is the most blunted and severe Iranian violation of Israeli sovereignty in the last years and that is why our response is severe as it is", said the IDF spokesman. And it all happens on one morning.

"Massive Syrian Anti-Air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe", IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said on Twitter. Conricus said the Israeli jets faced between 15 to 20 anti-aircraft missiles fired by SA-5 and SA-17 batteries.

Manelis stated that Israel struck the target deep in Syria where the drone was launched.

All regional actors interested in stabilizing the region "should work together to counter Iran, prevent it from basing itself in Syria, and stop its support of Hezbollah", he said.

"I reiterated our right and duty to defend ourselves against attacks from Syrian territory", Netanyahu said, adding that they agreed to continue their coordination on Syria.

It retaliated by sending at least eight jets to attack Syrian and Iranian military bases, which according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights were located near Homs province.

The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement saying, "We are calling on all the involved parties to express restraint and avoid any actions, which may cause the situation's aggravation". "We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security". Since Russia supplies Syrian anti-aircraft weaponry, and Russian technicians maintain it and train their Syrian colleagues, a Russian hand here is highly likely.

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Hours earlier Israel said it had downed an Iranian drone that had infiltrated its airspace.

"In response, the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] targeted Iranian targets in Syria", the military said.

"The fact that a drone like this is identified, tracked and intercepted so smoothly by the Israeli air force demonstrates our capabilities, demonstrates our resolve not to allow the breach of Israeli sovereignty", he said. It did not cross randomly but was "on a mission" he said, though he declined to give more details or comment on whether the drone was armed.

Israel's raids came after it intercepted what it said was an Iranian drone entering its airspace from Syria, which it labelled an "attack".

In response, the Israeli military attacked Iranian positions in Syria. Both pilots suffered injuries, and ejected after reaching Israeli territory.

Syria said its air defenses repelled two Israeli raids on its military bases in the center of the country, hitting more than one warplane during the first. "We are willing, prepared, and capable to exact a heavy price on anyone that attacks us. However, we are not looking to escalate the situation".

The Kremlin said Putin had stressed to Netanyahu the necessity to "avoid any measure that could lead to a risky escalation".

The Israeli military said it was investigating whether its jet was hit directly.

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