Israeli F-16 Warplane Downed by Syrian Air Defence Missiles

Israeli F-16 Warplane Downed by Syrian Air Defence Missiles

Israeli F-16 Warplane Downed by Syrian Air Defence Missiles

Visitors at the Hula Nature Reserve in northern Israel on April 3, 2016.

The Israeli military shot down an Iranian drone it said infiltrated the country early Saturday before launching a "large-scale attack" on at least a dozen Iranian and Syrian targets inside Syria.

The two F-16 pilots ejected in northern Israel and were taken to the hospital. The Israeli pilots were reportedly alive, but one was severely injured.

The jet itself crashed into a field near Kibbutz Harduf in the Jezreel Valley.

Israel's targeting of an Iranian site in Syria marks an escalation in military action involving the three countries and is one of the most serious incidents of its type since the Syrian civil conflict began eight years ago.

According to the statement, the IDF sees the Iranian attack and the Syrian response as a "severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty".

"IDF (Israel Defence Forces) has targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the [unmanned aircraft] into Israeli airspace".

Senior Israeli Air Force official Tomer Bar stated on Saturday that the Iranian drone that was downed early this morning was in Israel's airspace for a minute and a half before it was hit.

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Conricus declined to give details on the drone's presumed mission or whether it was armed. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said in a special statement. Syrian government sources say later that the mortar fire, which caused no damage or casualties, had been aimed at "terrorists linked to Israel".

Iran issued a joint statement alongside the other main allies of the Syrian regime, Russian Federation and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, vowing a "relentless response" to Israeli "aggression". "The era of Israeli strikes on Syria is over".

The statement vowed a "relentless response" to "all further aggression".

The deputy head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards Corps declined to comment on the issue, the semi-official Tasnim news agency report.

"This was a defensive effort triggered by an Iranian act of aggression and we are defending our airspace, our sovereignty and civilians", an Israeli military spokesman said on Saturday.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the six-day war of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the global community. "The U.S. continues to push back on the totality of Iran's malign activities in the region and calls for an end to Iranian behavior that threatens peace and stability".

'Whoever is responsible for this incident is the one who will pay the price'.

In recent weeks Israel has repeatedly warned against the presence of Iranian forces in neighbouring Syria. "Such attacks should be confronted and the response should be tougher to give the Israelis a lesson".

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