February 18, 2019

Israeli plane was downed by Syrian missile, army spokesman says

11 February 2018, 05:36 | Devin Moran

Israeli troops at the northern Golan Heights

Israeli troops at the northern Golan Heights

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was due to begin a previously scheduled visit to the region on Sunday, expecting what a State Department official said would be "tough conversations".

Lebanon on Saturday made a decision to file a complaint against Israel at the UN Security Council for allegedly violating the country's airspace, according to the country's presidency. "We will not tolerate any violation of our sovereignty".

Former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told Army Radio that Iran was caught off guard by Israel's actions.

The two pilots of the Israeli F-16 ejected before it crashed in northern Israel; both were reported as "safe" but one was left seriously injured.

Israel has sought to avoid direct involvement in the Syrian war, but acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes there to stop what it calls advanced arms deliveries to Hezbollah.

- Israel's prime minister said Sunday his country delivered "severe blows" to Iranian and Syrian forces and vowed to take further action against its adversaries following the most serious Israeli engagement in Syria since the war there erupted nearly seven years ago. An Israeli Apache helicopter was able to intercept the drone, after detecting it "early on" and placing it under surveillance, said the IDF. It mounts air strikes in Syria on a regular basis, striking suspected weapons shipments to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militant group.

Hezbollah, a Lebanese Islamist political party, said in a statement that the downing of the Israeli jet marks the "start of a new strategic phase".

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry has stressed that Moscow remains "concerned" that new tensions could affect zones of de-escalation that it argues have become "an important factor for the reduction of violence on Syrian soil".

"The creation of any threat to the lives and safety of Russian military servicemen now in Syria on the invitation of its lawful government to help fight terrorists is absolutely unacceptable", the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The council is due to discuss the crisis in Syria on Wednesday. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said in a special statement.

In a statement, it said Israel had targeted an air base in the Homs desert that is being used to fly drones in missions against Islamic State.

But Netanyahu rushed to military headquarters in Tel Aviv for consultations after the crash, while Syria's Assad regime pledged a strong response to any Israeli "terrorist action". The drone crossed into Israeli airspace.

"This is a dramatic development", Al Jazeera's Zena Khodr, reporting from Lebanon's capital, Beirut, said.

The statement said it was "a lie and misleading" to say the drone had entered Israel's airspace.

An Israeli plane had not been brought down in such a manner since 1982, said Tomer Bar, an Israeli air force commander, according to local media.

"The secretary-general is following closely the alarming military escalation throughout Syria and the unsafe spillover across its borders", United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. Subsequent attacks were carried out against four additional Iranian targets and eight Syrian sites. During the attack, several anti-aircraft missiles were launched at Israeli fighter jets and sirens sounded in northern Israel.

The military says it is "ready for various scenarios and will continue to act according to situation assessments".

The testing of Israel's defenses is the reason for the initial denial by official Iran that the UAV had entered Israeli airspace.

Air raid sirens sounded in the early morning of the Jewish sabbath in northern Israel and flights at Tel Aviv's worldwide airport were briefly halted.

The attack came after Israel shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country. The six included Syrian and non-Syrian allied troops, the Britain-based Observatory said.

"The Israeli entity is now convinced it is unable to bear the consequences of a confrontation", said Ghassan Mohammad, an analyst on the Syrian Ikhbariyah news channel. A second pilot was lightly wounded.

As the hours tick by, the view is gaining ground that the today's penetration of Israeli air space by an Iranian drone aircraft was not by chance, and that the Iranians were out to test the strength of an Israeli response to such an incident, and, even more so, the response of Russian Federation.

The military says it has the drone in its possession.

The Israeli air force then launched its attack on 12 further targets inside Syria, Conricus said, all of which were hit. Salami added: "We have no military presence in Syria".

He also threatened the United States, saying that his country had the military power to destroy all American bases in the region.

On Saturday, Israeli Armed Forces' Chief of Staff Brig. The Iranian version of the drone was displayed in a military parade in 2016.

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