Sun, Feb 11, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Israeli raids hit Iranian targets in Syria

DRONE ATTACK:Israel has for the first time publicly acknowledged attacking what it identified as Iranian targets in Syria since 2011, placing the blame on Iran

AFP and Reuters, JERUSALEM

Israeli soldiers take positions next to the Israeli-Syrian border following an attack in Syria yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Israel yesterday struck a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets inside Syria after an Israeli fighter jet crashed under fire from Syrian air defenses, the military said.

The confrontation was the most serious between rivals Israel and Iran since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011.

Israel’s raids came after it intercepted what it said was an Iranian drone entering its airspace from Syria.

It marked the first time Israel publicly acknowledged attacking what it identified as Iranian targets in Syria since the war began.

The Israeli military issued a warning to Tehran, saying it was responsible for the drone that entered Israel, which it labeled an “attack.”

It said its reprisals after the exchange were “large-scale” raids.

“A few minutes ago, [Israeli aircraft] ... targeted the Syrian Aerial Defense System and Iranian targets in Syria,” a military statement said. “Twelve targets, including three aerial defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria were attacked.”

Israel has repeatedly warned in recent weeks against the presence of Iranian forces in neighboring Syria.

The Israeli pilots of the crashed F16 were reported alive, although one was severely wounded.

According to the Israeli military, the confrontation began with a drone entering its airspace.

Israeli forces identified an “Iranian UAV [uncrewed aerial vehicle]” launched from Syria and intercepted it in Israeli airspace with a combat helicopter, a statement said.

They then “targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the UAV into Israeli airspace,” military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus tweeted.

“Massive Syrian anti-air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe,” he said.

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.

According to a separate military statement, “multiple anti-aircraft missiles were fired at IAF [Israel Air Force] aircraft.”

“The pilots of one of the aircraft abandoned as per procedure. The pilots landed in Israeli territory and were taken to the hospital for medical treatment,” it said.

Conricus said the army had confirmed “accurate hits of [the] Iranian UAV control facility” in Syria.

“Iran is responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty,” Conricus said on Twitter.

Syria said its air defences repelled two Israeli raids on its military bases in the centre of the country, hitting more than one warplane during the first.

“At dawn, the Zionist enemy carried out a new aggression against one of our military bases in the centre of the country,” state news agency SANA reported. “Our air defences repelled it and hit more than one plane.”

“Israel does not seek an escalation in the region, an Israeli military spokesman said yesterday.

“We are willing, prepared and capable to exact a heavy price from anyone that attacks us, however we are not looking to escalate the situation,” he said.

“This was a defensive effort triggered by an Iranian act of aggression and we are defending our airspace our sovereignty and civilians,” the spokesman said.

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