Israel launched a “large-scale attack” inside Syria on Saturday, targeting Syrian air defense sites after an Israeli F-16 fighter jet was downed by Syria anti-aircraft fire.
The series of cross-border incidents beginning in the early hours of Saturday morning began when an Iranian drone crossed into Israeli territory from Syria at around 4:30 a.m.
Israel then dispatched eight fighter jets to bomb the launch site — the T4 military base near the Syrian city of Palmyra, he said.
Syria responded with “substantial Syrian anti-aircraft fire” under which two Israeli pilots ejected from their F-16, which crashed inside Israel, according to the military. One of the pilots was severely injured.
The Israeli military said it was investigating whether the plane was hit directly. The Syrian state news agency said more than one plane was hit, describing the bombing of the base as a “new Israeli aggression.”
After the plane crashed, Israel responded by targeting 12 military sites in Syria — eight Syrian and four that it said were Iranian.
“The Syrians are playing with fire that they are allowing the Iranians to attack Israel from their soil,” Conricus said. “The IDF is ready and capable to inflict a heavy price on anyone that attacks us. This is a severe attack and a breach of Israeli sovereignty perpetrated by Iran.”
Israel has regularly carried out airstrikes in Syria in recent years, citing concerns about a growing Iranian military presence and an expansion of its proxy Hezbollah over its northern border during Syria’s nearly seven-year-long civil war. However, unlike on Saturday, the Israeli military usually refrains from confirming specific incidents.
“We can hear the sounds of the explosions,” said one Damascus resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He said the outgoing sound of Syrian anti-air craft missiles is louder than usual. Air raid sirens were triggered in residential areas on Israel’s northern border.
Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps refused Saturday to comment on the reports Israel had an intercepted an Iranian drone inside its territory. He was speaking on the sidelines of a conference marking the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported. Salami added: “We have no military presence in Syria.”
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