Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria

"Reports of downing an Iranian drone flying over Israel and also Iran's involvement in attacking an Israeli jet are so ridiculous", state TV quoted Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying.

An Israeli F-16 fighter jet crashed Saturday in northern Israel after coming under "massive anti-aircraft fire" from Syrian forces, according to the Israeli army.

Iran's involvement in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad in a almost seven-year-old civil war - including the deployment of Iran-backed forces near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights - has alarmed Israel, which has said it would counter any threat. Syrian government forces and their allies have generally refrained from responding, wary of opening up yet another front in an already chaotic conflict.

"Iran is responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty", Conricus said on Twitter. "My feeling is that they don't have an interest in escalation".

Netanyahu's remarks came as he convened his security chiefs for consultations on Saturday's confrontations which followed Israel's interception of what it said was an Iranian drone launched from Syria.

Taunting the U.S., he said they would be better "to leave the region before its defeat". Until this weekend, counterstrikes by Syria and Hezbollah against Israel had caused little damage.

But on Saturday, after the downing of the F-16, an official in the pro-Assad alliance said a "message" had been delivered to Israel. Across the border the event was taken as a victory, with dozens of Lebanese celebrating and waving Hezbollah's flag. "Today's formulas mean the old formulas have fallen".

It said the Israeli strikes had targeted drones used against "terrorist organisations, primarily Daesh", using an alternative name for the Islamic State group.

Netanyahu has been seeking to persuade Russian Federation to limit Iran's presence near Israeli territory and to stop it from entrenching itself militarily in Syria.




"I have recently spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin", Netanyahu said cited by his press office.

"The Russian side called for any steps, which might trigger a new spiral of unsafe confrontations for all in the region, to be avoided", the Kremlin press service said. This past week, USA warplanes bombed pro-government forces after they allegedly advanced on US -backed forces in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour.

Iran, for its part, denounced Israeli "lies" and said Syria had the right to "legitimate self-defense" in response to air strikes launched by Israel.

Syrian television said its country's defense systems hit more than than one Israeli aircraft.

"We urge all parties involved to exercise restraint and to avoid any actions that could lead to an even greater complication of the situation", Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Israel "showed how determined it is not to allow Iran to have the Middle East the way it wants it".

An Israeli Apache helicopter was able to intercept the drone, after detecting it "early on" and placing it under surveillance, said the IDF.

Syrian Army officials said the drone had been carrying out a routine mission against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, over Syrian airspace, according to the news site Al-Manar.

"Any new aggression will be met with a tough and serious response", the statement said.

It says that during the attack anti-aircraft missiles were fired toward Israel, triggering alarms that were heard in northern Israel.

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