Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper

Israel jet crashes after 'Iranian targets' attacked in Syria

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Israeli security forces walk next to the remains of an F-16 Israeli war plane near the Israeli village of Harduf, Israel on Saturday.

AFP, Jerusalem :
 An Israeli F16 fighter jet crashed in Israel Saturday as the air force was carrying out attacks against "Iranian targets" in Syria after intercepting a drone, a spokesman said.
"IDF (Israel Defence Force) has targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) into Israeli airspace. Massive Syrian anti-air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe," Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Jonathan Conricus wrote on Twitter.
According to a separate military statement, Israeli forces had identified an "Iranian UAV" launched from Syria and intercepted it in Israeli airspace with a combat helicopter.
Police said the F16 crashed in the Jezreel valley in northern Israel.
"Iran is responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty," Conricus said on Twitter. Israel's raids came after it intercepted what it said was an Iranian drone entering its airspace from Syria.
It marked the first time Israel publicly acknowledged attacking what it identified as Iranian targets in Syria since the war began.
The Israeli military issued a warning to Tehran, saying it was responsible for the drone that entered Israel, which it labelled an "attack."
It said its reprisals after the exchange were "large-scale" raids.
"A few minutes ago, (Israeli aircraft)... targeted the Syrian Aerial Defence System and Iranian targets in Syria," a military statement said.
"Twelve targets, including three aerial defence batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran's military establishment in Syria were attacked."
Israel has repeatedly warned in recent weeks against the presence of Iranian forces in neighbouring Syria.
The Israeli pilots of the crashed F16 were reported alive, although one was severely wounded.
According to the Israeli military, the confrontation began with a drone entering its airspace.
Israeli forces identified an "Iranian UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle)" launched from Syria and intercepted it in Israeli airspace with a combat helicopter, a statement said.
They then "targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the UAV into Israeli airspace," military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus tweeted.
"Massive Syrian anti-air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe."
Police said the F16 crashed in the Jezreel valley in northern Israel.
It was not clear if the jet crashed as a direct result of the Syrian fire.
According to a separate military statement, "multiple anti-aircraft missiles were fired at IAF (Israel Air Force) aircraft."
"The pilots of one of the aircraft abandoned as per procedure. The pilots landed in Israeli territory and were taken to the hospital for medical treatment."
·    'Iran is responsible' -

Conricus said the army had confirmed "accurate hits of (the) Iranian UAV control facility" in Syria.
"Iran is responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty," Conricus said on Twitter.
Syria said its air defences repelled two Israeli raids on its military bases in the centre of the country, hitting more than one warplane during the first.
"At dawn, the Zionist enemy carried out a new aggression against one of our military bases in the centre of the country," state news agency SANA reported.
"Our air defences repelled it and hit more than one plane."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the seven-year civil war, said the Israeli raids had targeted several military bases in the east of the central province of Homs.
It said the bases are used by both Iranian and Russian military personnel deployed in support of the regime.
Air raid sirens had gone off in Israel in the early hours of the morning following the UAV interception and raids.
The army said it was "monitoring events and is fully prepared for further action, depending on assessments and necessity."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has held a series of meetings in recent months with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Iran's influence in war-torn Syria and Lebanon.
Netanyahu has been seeking to persuade Russia to limit Iran's presence near Israeli territory and to stop it from entrenching itself militarily in Syria.

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