Israel loses warplane under Syrian fire, accuses Iran of drone infiltration
11 February, 2018, 05:14 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
On Saturday, the Syrian military targeted at least one intruding Israeli F-16 warplane that had attacked an army base in central Syria, sending it down in flames and smoke.
"This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory".
Sergey Lavrov, Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, said in the statement on Saturday: "We urge all parties involved to exercise restraint and to avoid any actions that could lead to an even greater complication of the situation. Iran is dragging the region into an adventure in which it doesn't know how it will end", he said. It is highly unlikely that Putin had advance information about Iran's intention of sending the drone, but it is nearly certain that the Russian air defense officers who are training Syria's anti-aircraft forces knew about the firing of anti-aircraft missiles at the Israel Air Force plane.
In a televised statement, Netanyahu said Israel "seeks peace but we will continue to defend ourselves steadfastly against any attack against us or any attempt by Iran to establish itself against us in Syria". This incident proves that every one of these warnings proved true.
That prompted Israel to unleash a dozen retaliatory strikes on both Syrian and Iranian targets inside Syria. If the conflict escalates, it could end up adding a unsafe angle to the ongoing Syrian conflict - and one that could wind up involving other powers in the region and beyond.
Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, who is also a member of the security cabinet, said that the Iranians "are crossing redlines" and "playing with fire".
Iran's expanding clout during the Syrian civil war, including deployments of Iran-backed forces near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, has raised alarm in Israel, which has said it would act against any threat from its regional arch-enemy Tehran. At one of these bases, Khmeimim Air Base, not far from the Mediterranean shore, is the Russian command bunker for its forces in Syria, which has a direct line of communication with the Israeli high command.
"It is necessary to unconditionally respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and other countries in the region".
Israel has long warned about the risk of conflict as a result of Iranian forces and its allies - including Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group - digging in on Syrian territory and approaching the boundary with the Israeli-held portion of the Golan Heights.
State television stations also said that sounds of explosions believed to be from Israeli attacks were heard in the Damascus countryside.
Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the six-day war of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the global community.
"The IDF sees the Iranian attack and the Syrian response as a severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty", the Israeli Army said. Iran's military chief warned Israel last October against breaching Syrian airspace and territory.
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