USA concerned over escalating violence at Israeli border

BC-AP News Digest 3:15

The Israeli military said the F-16 jet crashed during a mission to strike Iranian drone installations in Syria, where Iranian and Iran-backed forces have established a major foothold while fighting in support of Assad.

Israel will do "whatever is necessary" to protect itself against aggression from Iran and Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said hours after an Iranian drone infiltration from Syria.

The Israeli military yesterday shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country before launching a "large-scale attack" on at least a dozen Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria.

While describing the events leading to the crash of Israeli F-16 by Syrian forces, Haaretz said that "In response to the incursion by an Iranian drone, Israeli aircraft stuck Iranian targets in Syria, with a barrage of Syrian air-defense missiles bringing down an Israeli F-16 over Israel".

Israel then launched a second bombing raid in Syria. Following the incident, Syrian state-run agency SANA reported that the country's air defense systems had opened fire on Israel.

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The Iranian threat along Israel's northern border with Syria and Lebanon had been addressed numerous times by the Jewish State via several recent strong warnings, but the rogue jihadist regime paid little heed.

Tehran has faced accusations that it is seeking to establish not just an arc of influence but a logistical land supply line from Iran through to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Russia's foreign ministry urged "restraint" by all parties, adding it was "unacceptable to create threats to the lives and security of Russian soldiers" in Syria. "We made unequivocally clear to everyone that our modus operandi has not changed one bit". It is assumed that the jet was hit by shrapnel by the Syrian antiaircraft fire.

"Iran now intends to launch attacks from Syria against Israel by themselves instead of through Hezbollah infrastructure, Druze and Palestinian elements before", Yossi said. Fearing one of the missile had been locked onto one of the jets, the pilot and co-pilot chose to eject.

"The United States is deeply concerned about today's escalation of violence over Israel's border and strongly supports Israel's sovereign right to defend itself", said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

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Another 47 people were injured and taken to hospitals, including 19 in serious condition, the Hospital Authority said. A 30-year-old man has been arrested on unsafe driving charges as authorities in the city investigate the incident.

Iran denied Israel's shooting down of a drone, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasem calling the account "ridiculous", while the joint operations room for the Syrian military and its allies insisted the drone had not violated Israeli airspace and was on a regular mission gathering intelligence on Islamic State militants. The headline is also wrong - it was the Syrians (and/or the Iranians) who shot down an Israeli fighter jet - we shot down an Iranian drone.

Israel says the strikes destroyed the main command and control bunker of the Syrian military and marked its most devastating assault against Syria in decades.

Israeli soldiers inspect the remains of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet that crashed near the northern Israeli Kibbutz of Harduf, on February 10, 2018. According to Israeli sources, it was the largest and most successful attack on the missile system in Syria since the Lebanon War of 1982. "We are willing, prepared, and capable to exact a heavy price on anyone that attacks us".

The Israeli military declined to comment.

Noting that Israel uses advanced electronic technology to distract and confuse the Sa-5 and S-300, in the end, the most advanced technology can not guarantee a 100% protection "in skies that are saturated with dozens of missiles", Inbar said. "The danger of the escalation of tensions within and around the de-escalation zones, which have become an important factor in reducing violence in Syria, is of particular concern", the Foreign Ministry stated on its website.

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It was the most serious confrontation between Iran and Israel since Syria's war began in 2011 and came amid growing alarm over Syrian government offensives against rebel-held Eastern Ghouta and Idlib.

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