Israeli, Iranian confrontation in Syria unlikely to escalate into war

MIDEAST-GOLAN HEIGHTS-SYRIA-ATTACK

IAF Chief to F-16 Pilot: Ejecting Was the Right Call

Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli air force general who once headed Israel's military intelligence, said the downing of the plane Saturday in northern Israel raised the possibility that "Syria may have used a long-range missile that Israel has been anxious about".

After his military shot down an Iranian drone infiltrating Israeli airspace and struck numerous Syrian military bases, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that the Jewish State will stop at nothing and aggressively attack its enemies to ensure the safety of its people.

Saturday's Israeli airstrikes followed Israel's interception of an Iranian drone that had infiltrated its airspace.

"Israel is a staunch ally of the United States, and we support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria", the White House statement released late on Saturday read.

Israel then launched a second bombing raid in Syria. Inbar believes that although the whole Syrian air defense system is based on Soviet and later Russian systems, "it would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that for every launch of a surface-to-air missile, the Russians must be informed".

Israel claims the assaults were made on Hezbollah and Iranian targets operating from within Syria which Israel sees as posing a direct threat to its sovereignty and national security. But Israel is concerned about the presence of Iranian backed forces near the Golan Heights, which is occupied by Israel. Russian Federation expressed "serious concern" over the Israeli air strikes and called for all sides to show restraint. "Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel".

Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the IDF's Intelligence Research and Assessment Division and former director-general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said Iran attempts to change the "rule of games" between Iran and Israel.

During that raid, the Israeli F16 met heavy Syrian anti-aircraft fire and was hit, Israeli Air Force Brigadier General Amnon Ein Dar told army radio.

They were taken to hospital, one of them "severely injured", the Israeli military said.

As the Israeli planes came under attack, one of the jets was hit.

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It said that it sent its jets into Syria after shooting down an Iranian drone over Israeli territory earlier on Saturday.

"It is necessary to unconditionally respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and other countries in the region".

An Israeli F-16 jet targeted by Syrian anti-aircraft fire crashed in Israeli territory, leading the two pilots to eject from the aircraft.

In an interview, he noted, "This means Israeli jets are exposed and vulnerable within Israeli borders".

In retaliation, Israel carried out what the army called "a large-scale operation" into Syria targeting 12 Syrian and Iranian military sites.

The NPO Almaz S-200, listed by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as SA-5 Gammon, is a very long-range, medium-to-high altitude surface-to-air missile system designed in the 1960s to defend large areas from bomber attack or other strategic aircraft. "We are full of determination, ready and able to make everyone who tries to attack us pay a high price".

Conricus said missile remnants were found near the crash site.

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. "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.

Authorities also accused Syria in November of violating the 1974 ceasefire agreement by "conducting construction work" in the northern part of the Golan Demilitarized Zone.

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