Israel launches heavy air strike in Syria after F-16 crash

IAF Chief to F-16 Pilot: Ejecting Was the Right Call

IAF Chief to F-16 Pilot: Ejecting Was the Right Call

"Iran's presence in Syria is limited to advisers at the request of its legitimate government", an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qasemi, was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

He also added that the US Department of Defense "did not participate in this military operation", referring to the Israeli latest attacks on what its military said were Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria, including Syrian air defense systems. David Ivry, a former Israeli Air Force chief, told Reuters he believed it was the first time an Israeli F-16 was brought down since Israel began using the jets in the 1980s. The drone entered Israel via Jordanian airspace and flew for a minute and a half before it was intercepted by an Israeli Air Force Apache helicopter near the town of Beit She'an.

It said its reprisals after the exchange were "large-scale" raids. "The risk is a direct confrontation between Israel and Iran that will encompass Syria and Lebanon".

As the Israeli planes came under attack, two F-16 pilots made a decision to eject, and their plane crashed in Israel's Galilee region, Conricus said.

The military says it has the drone in its possession. In response, Iran denounced Israeli "lies" and said Syria had the right to self-defence in response to Israeli strikes.

Israel said one of its F-16s crashed after it came under fire from Syria. Police said the F16 crashed in the Jezreel valley in northern Israel. It was not clear if the jet crashed as a direct result of the Syrian fire.

It says that during the attack anti-aircraft missiles were fired toward Israel, triggering alarms that were heard in northern Israel.

Eight Israeli aircraft then "targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the UAV" and confirmed hits, according to Conricus.

"Iran is responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty", Conricus said on Twitter. It said the drones collect information on militant groups, including Islamic State, for the Syrian army, and said the drone was on a routine mission Saturday morning targeting Islamic State remnants.

The new Israeli raids come hours after an earlier one in central Syria.

But both Israel and Syria signalled they were not seeking wider conflict, even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rushed to military headquarters in Tel Aviv for consultations and the pro-Assad alliance pledged a strong response to any Israeli "terrorist action". Israel responded with a "large scale attack" on 12 bases in Syria.

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

"We will not allow that regime to entrench itself militarily in Syria, as it seeks to do, for the express goal of eradicating our state", Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during a visit to Washington in December.

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 global 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.

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

But regarding the downing of the Israeli F-16, Syria's Allies Command said "we hail the fearless retaliation of Damascus".

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