December 18, 2018

United States concerned violence escalating at Israel's border

11 February 2018, 04:25 | Devin Moran

'We will do everything to halt Iranian aggression' – Netanyahu (video)

AP Top News at 12:40 am EST

General Salami denied that an Iranian drone shot down by the Israelis was violating Israel's airspace - saying the drone was gathering intelligence on Islamic State. Both pilots suffered injuries, and ejected after reaching Israeli territory.

Israel struck a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets inside Syria on Saturday in "large-scale" raids after an Israeli fighter jet crashed under fire from Syrian air defences in a severe increase in tensions, the military said. The incident was sparked by what Israel said was an Iranian drone infiltrating its air space.

Israel says the episode began with an Iranian drone crossing into its territory from Syria in the early hours of Saturday.

In a statement on its website Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was concerned about the Israeli attack and said it was unacceptable to create threats to the safety of Russian military personnel in Syria.

Putin told Netanyahu there was a need to avoid any steps that would lead to a new confrontation in the region, Interfax reported.

"Security Council members must not stand idly by while Iran is instigating unsafe escalations and violating Security Council resolutions", he said.

The United States fully supports Israel's right to defend itself against threats, a Pentagon spokesman said after Israel said it struck 12 Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria, including Syrian air defense systems. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said in a special statement.

Saturday's chain of events began at 4:30 a.m. (0230 GMT) when an Israeli Apache helicopter shot down an Iranian drone over the northern town of Beit Shean, the Israeli military said.

The remains of an Israeli F-16 that crashed in northern Israel on February 10.

Eighty Fijian peacekeepers on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights are on high alert after explosions were heard.

"The fact that a drone like this is identified, tracked and intercepted so smoothly by the Israeli air force demonstrates our capabilities, demonstrates our resolve not to allow the breach of Israeli sovereignty", he said.

Flights at Tel Aviv's worldwide airport were briefly halted.

The frontier fell quiet by mid-afternoon.

Conricus said missile remnants were found near the crash site.

Israel then launched a second bombing raid in Syria.

Israel has said it will not accept a permanent military presence by Iran and its Shiite allies in Syria, especially near the Israeli border.

Israel launched air raids in Syria yesterday after one of its fighter jets crashed (above) while under Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

Israel, which also operates drones, has long maintained air superiority in the region. "Today's formulas mean the old formulas have fallen".

Israel has repeatedly warned in recent weeks against the presence of Iranian forces in neighbouring Syria . But he added: "I do not believe matters will develop to a regional war".

The US administration has backed Israel's hawkish stance on Iran and declared containing Tehran's influence an objective of its Syria policy. Awkwardly, late last month, Netanyahu visited Moscow to push Russian Federation to rein in its Iranian allies in Syria.

"The (U.S.) Department of Defense did not participate in this military operation", Pentagon spokesman Adrian Rankine-Galloway said.

She said Washington continues to push back on the totality of Iran's "malign" activities in the region and called for an end to Iranian behavior that "threatens" peace and stability.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called for an immediate de-escalation in Syria after Israel carried out airstrikes in the country in retaliation for an Iranian drone that infiltrated its territory from Syria.

Netanyahu said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and vowed to strike back hard.

Israel remains technically at war with Syria and occupies a swathe of the strategic Golan Heights that it seized in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the worldwide community.

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