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Israel launches large scale attack against Syria after F-16 fighter jet crash

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The Israeli army launched a large-scale attack against the Syrian aerial defense system and Iranian targets in Syria after an Israeli F-16 fighter was hit by missiles from Syria and crashed on Saturday morning.

Twelve Iranian and Syrian targets inside Syria were attacked, including four Iranian targets that are part of Iran's military establishment in Syria and eight Syrian targets belonging to the Fourth Syrian division near Damascus, said the IDF spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, in a briefing held Saturday noon.

All targets were hit and the Israeli aircrafts completed their mission and returned to base safely, and during the attack between 15-20 anti-aircraft missiles were fired against Israeli aircrafts, said Conricus.

Eight Israeli fighter jets attacked the Iranian and Syrian targets inside Syria. There was massive anti-aircraft fire towards Israeli planes, which indicates that the Syrians decided to get involved even though the attack was against the Iranian facility on their soil, added Conricus.

"This is the most blunted and severe Iranian violation of Israeli sovereignty in the last years and that is why our response is severe as it is," said the IDF spokesman.

The Syrians and the Iranians are "playing with fire from our point of view," said Conricus. "The Syrians are playing with fire when they are allowing the Iranians to attack Israel on their soil."

This was an defensive effort triggered by an "Iranian act of aggression," and "we are willing, prepared and capable to extract a heavy price from anyone that attacks us," he said. However, "we are not interested to escalate the situation," he noted.

According to the briefing, the chain of the events started approximately at 4:30 am on Saturday morning. An Iranian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) penetrated into Israeli air space and this UAV was dispatched and controlled by Iranian forces from inside an Iranian base inside Syria, which is located near Palmyra in eastern Syria in the desert, it said.

Earlier the IDF said in a statement that a combat helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel.

The Israeli army intercepted the UAV with an Apache helicopter over Israeli territories, a little bit north of Beit Shean in the Jordan valley, Conricus gave details in the briefing. "We have the remains of the UAV and we know for certain that it is an Iranian UAV," he said.

In response to that violation to Israeli sovereignty, the IDF attacked the control facility of that specific UAV which is an Iranian facility, said Conricus.

Earlier, the IDF said in a statement that the army will "act determinately against such severe violations of Israeli sovereignty by Iran and Syria and will continue to act as necessary." The IDF is "ready for various scenarios and will continue to act according to situation assessments."

During that, a double seated F-16 fighter "Sufa" in Hebrew was hit and crashed in the northern Galilee. The IDF later confirmed with Xinhua that during the attack one Israeli F-16 fighter was hit and crashed. The two pilots of the fighter were forced to abandon the fighter by parachute after the aircraft was hit. One pilot was in serious condition the other was lightly wounded.

A gunshot fired from Syria towards an Israeli military drone hit a house in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on Feb. 7. Shots were fired from Syria at an IDF UAV, said the Israeli army.

Israel has been reportedly conducting frequent intelligence fly-overs and carried out several air attacks against Syria military targets.

The spokesman of the Foreign Ministry of Israel told Xinhua Saturday noon that they are not commenting at the moment about the report of the Israeli media that Israel has asked for immediate Russian and American intervention.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned many times that Israel will not tolerate Iranian military presence in Syria.

Netanyahu stressed that Israel "strongly" opposes an Iranian foothold on the soil of its northern neighbor and noted that Israel is "taking action against (it)" ahead of Netanyahu's visit to Moscow On Jan. 29 to hold a talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the issue of Iran's actions in the region.

Israel has repeatedly asked Putin and other international leaders not to allow Iran gain a permanent military presence in war-torn Syria.

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