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"Major Escalation": Israel Carries Out "Large Scale Attack" On Syria After Israeli F-16 Shot Down
10 February, 2017
Update 3: According to Reuters, Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the situation in Syria in a telephone call following the heavy Israeli air strikes in the country, Interfax news agency cited the Kremlin as saying.
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“The claim about the flight of an Iranian drone and Iran’s involvement in the downing of a Zionist fighter jet is so ridiculous that it does not merit a comment,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said. He added that Iranian officials are acting in Syria only as advisers and do so “at the request of the… legitimate and lawful government."
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, said that "any aggressive actions” by Tel Aviv would trigger a serious response. That is because Iran is capable of creating “hell for the Zionists."
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The condition of the pilot, who was seriously injured after he was forced to evacuate the plane, stabilized Saturday morning, but he was still unconscious and connected to a respirator, doctors at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center said.
The condition of a seriously wounded Israeli pilot began to improve Saturday, after he underwent surgery for injuries he sustained while ejecting from his plane over northern Israel, in the midst of a severe confrontation between Israel, Syria, and Iran, the ToI reported. The F-16 jet he was piloting took part in Israeli airstrikes in response to an Iranian drone that entered Israeli airspace from Syria in the early morning hours on Saturday.
As reported earlier (see below), a major battle broke out on Saturday between the Israeli Air Force and Syrian Air Defence Force over the occupied Golan Region, south Lebanon and the west Damascus region. During the confrontation that lasted for hours, Israeli warplanes and Syrian anti-aircraft systems traded missile fire – literally dozens of such munitions were fired – as the latter launched a general attack against ‘Iranian and regime’ bases west of Damascus.
Though details remain murky and are still developing, Israel has confirmed that its F-16 jet has crashed in Israeli territory after it was struck carrying out operations targeting locations in Syria. The IDF spokesman quickly stated in a tweet confirming the shoot down that "Iran is responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty."
Israeli security forces walk next to the remains of the downed F-16 Israeli war plane near the Israeli village of Harduf, Israel. February 10, 2018. Image source: Reuters
The two Israeli pilots ejected, landing inside Israel in the northern countryside of Galilee and were rushed to a hospital, according to local media reports. Israeli military statements have indicated that one of the pilots suffered severe injuries as a result of the emergency ejection from the aircraft.
This is the first time in the 7-year long Syrian war that an Israel jet has been shot down, and after promising a swift response, Israel has launched multiple retaliatory strikes against Syrian military bases in the southwest countryside of Damascus.
Beirut-based Al Masdar News reports that the incident occurred at approximately 6:30 A.M. Saturday morning (local time) and that the Israeli F-16 fighter was hit while flying within Syrian airspace near Damascus.
The Syrian military has stated that its air defense missile system further struck an Israeli drone shortly after the F-16 was downed, which had been launched from the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. There's not been immediate Israeli confirmation of this second aircraft downing.
A Syria war monitor says Israel has struck targets in central Syria and the southwestern suburbs of the capital Damascus in two separate and successive waves of airstrikes.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the first round targeted in the central desert area where Syrian troops and their Iranian-backed allies including Hezbollah are known to maintain bases. It cited unconfirmed reports of casualties among Syrian government forces and allied militiamen.
The Britain-based Observatory, which monitors the Syria war through a network of activists on the ground, says the second round targeted outposts in the southwestern suburbs of Damascus.
The army air defense confronted a new Israeli aggression on one of the military positions in the central area and hit more than one aircraft...
Moreover, the Army air defense confronted another Israeli aggression on Damascus Countryside on Saturday morning...
Meanwhile, media of the Israeli enemy admitted that the Syrian air defense shot down an F-16 jet over Galilee in occupied Palestine and that its pilots were injured, confirming the closure of parts the Israeli airspace for aviation after downing the warplane.
And as Israel has long sought ways to justify attacks on Iranian assets in Syria while at the same time undermining and destabilizing the Syrian government, the downing of an F-16 may have given Israel's hawkish leadership the excuse they've been looking for all along to escalate toward a final confrontation.
Israel will defend itself against any attack & Iranian foothold in Syria – Netanyahu
10 February, 2018
Israel says it does not want war but will not hesitate to defend itself against any attacks or attempts by Tehran to get a foothold in Syria. It comes as Israel claims to have downed an Iranian drone over its territory.
We could ‘destroy all US bases in region & create hell for Zionist regime’ – Iranian commander
10 February, 2018
Tehran has dismissed Tel Aviv’s claims concerning an Iranian UAV and a downed Israeli jet as “ridiculous.” An Iranian commander also warned Iran could unleash “hell” on the “Zionist regime” and destroy all US bases in the area.