Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Iran rejects reports of Israel downing Iranian drone as ridiculous

Iran rejects reports of Israel downing Iranian drone as ridiculous

Anti-aircraft fire downed an Israeli warplane returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria on Saturday in the most serious confrontations yet between Israel and Iranian-backed forces based across the border.

"A few minutes ago, (Israeli aircraft) ... targeted the Syrian Aerial Defence System and Iranian targets in Syria", a military statement said.

Both pilots ejected and were injured, one critically.

Israel yesterday launched heavy air strikes in Syria and hit air defenses and Iranian targets in retaliation of its F-16 fighter jet that was downed by Syria.

"Before, it was done through proxies", for example by the Syrian regime or the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, Nader said.

Israel conducted airstrikes in Syria, which were provoked, according to the Israeli army, by an "act of Iran's aggression", when an Iranian drone flew into the disputed Israel-occupied Golan Heights last night.

Such "terrorist action" by Israel would be met with a "severe and serious response", it said.

Israel says the situation started with an Iranian drone crossing into its territory from Syria at around 4:30 a.m.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has held a series of meetings in recent months with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Iran's influence in Syria and Lebanon. Netanyahu said he spoke to Putin again Saturday, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and that the Israeli and Russian militaries would continue their coordination to avoid inadvertent confrontation in Syria.

Several analysts said they did not expect a further escalation for now.

In the incident on Saturday morning, an Iranian drone allegedly crossed into Israeli territory where it was promptly shot down by an IDF helicopter. The IDF intercepted it with an Apache attack helicopter, he said, and the remains of the drone fell north of the Israeli town of Beit She'an.

Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus warned that Syria and Iran were "playing with fire", but stressed his country was not seeking an escalation.

The Israeli military released grainy black and white footage of what it said was the drone's control vehicle in Syria being destroyed. An Israeli F-16 was subsequently shot down.

"We heard a big explosion and then sirens". "We do not confirm any such news from Israel", he said.

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

Conricus said missile remnants were found near the crash site. He said the sound of Syrian anti-aircraft missiles is louder than usual. According to Orden, the Israelis managed not to hit any crucial Syrian or Iranian assets in the area.

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Israel has long maintained air superiority in the region, mounting air strikes in Syria on a regular basis, targeting suspected weapons shipments to Hezbollah. "Today's developments mean the old equations have categorically ended", the group said in a statement.

The incidents marked the most serious confrontations in Syria between Israel and Iranian-backed forces that have established a major foothold in the country while fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad in a almost seven-year-old civil war. "Iran is dragging the region into an adventure in which it doesn't know how it will end", Israel's chief military spokesman Brig.

"I do not believe matters will develop to a regional war", the official said.

Guterres "further calls on the parties to move swiftly toward a political solution, in line with Security Council Resolution 2254, which is the only way to end the violence and the bad suffering of the Syrian people", the statement concluded. Israel "showed how determined it is not to allow Iran to have the Middle East the way it wants it".

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.

Tensions also have spiked across the frontier between Israel and Lebanon over Israeli plans for a border wall, and Lebanese plans to exploit an offshore energy block partly located in disputed waters.

Israel remain technically at war with Syria and occupies a swath 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.

There has been an uneasy standoff since a ceasefire that followed a war in 1973, with United Nations observer forces manning a buffer zone between the two armies.

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