Israel’s army said it had launched a “large-scale attack” inside Syria on Saturday after one of its jets was downed under Syrian antiaircraft fire, in a series of cross-border incidents that threatened to destabilize the volatile region between the two countries.
Israel says the situation started with an Iranian drone crossing into its territory from Syria at around 4:30 a.m. It was shot down by an Israeli attack helicopter.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahran Qasemi, however, described the Israeli claim as “ridiculous.”
Israel later dispatched eight fighter jets to bomb the T4 military base near the Syrian city of Palmyra, from where it says the drone was dispatched and controlled. Syria responded with “substantial Syrian antiaircraft fire” under which two Israeli pilots ejected from their F-16, which crashed inside Israel, according to the Israeli military. One of the pilots was severely injured, it said.
“The Syrians are playing with fire that they are allowing the Iranians to attack Israel from their soil,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces. “The IDF is ready and capable to inflict a heavy price on anyone that attacks us. This is a severe attack and a breach of Israeli sovereignty perpetrated by Iran.”