- Strikes follow Iranian drone’s reported infiltration to Israel
- Israeli F-16 crashes as situation threatens to escalate
Israel launched attacks on Iranian and Syrian positions after it said Iran sent a military drone into its airspace Saturday, as the tense situation along the border threatened to escalate into wider violence.
Israel struck 12 targets in Syria, including three air-defense batteries and four Iranian targets, in a “large-scale attack” responding to the drone intrusion, the Israel Defense Forces said. An F-16 fighter plane crashed in northern Israel after coming under fire from Syrian anti-aircraft missiles, the Israeli army spokesman said in a text message; the pilots were hospitalized with moderate to severe injuries.
Saturday’s confrontation, the most serious between the sides since the Syrian civil war began, comes amid Israeli warnings that it won’t let Syria become an Iranian base and will intercept weapons shipments bound for Iran-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. Iran and allied militias have fought alongside government troops against rebels and Islamist factions in the seven-year-old Syrian war.
“What we’re watching is an attempt by the Iranians to shape the situation in Syria as we approach the end of the civil war in a way that serves Iranian interests,” said Yossi Kuperwasser, a retired brigadier general and former director general of Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry. Israel “showed how determined it is not to allow Iran to have the Middle East the way it wants it.”Israel Warnings
Israel has attacked inside Syria frequently since the civil war there began in March 2011, targeting Syrian military posts and arms shipments bound for Hezbollah. Until Saturday, counterstrikes by Syria and Hezbollah against Israel had caused little damage.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman huddled with military officials in Tel Aviv on the Jewish Sabbath to discuss the situation, Israeli media reported. Israel closed its northern airspace, a spokeswoman said.
The Israel Defense Forces, which said the drone was on a military mission, “sees the Iranian attack and the Syrian response as a severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty,” the military said in a statement. “The IDF is monitoring events and is fully prepared for further action.”
Netanyahu has made a number of visits to Russia, the dominant player in Syria, to make Israel’s red lines clear and ask President Vladimir Putin to rein in Iran. So far those pleas appear to have gone unheeded.
Full article: Israel Attacks Syrian, Iranian Posts as Border Region Boils (Bloomberg Politics)