Israel downs Iranian drone, destroys operating base in Syria

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Moscow is seriously concerned by the latest developments in Syria and calls on sides to exercise restraint and avoid an escalation of the situation, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, "We consider it necessary to unconditionally respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and other countries of the region".

The Israeli pilots of the crashed F16 were alive, although one was severely wounded, the military said.

Israel then launched air attacks on the drone's control systems, with Syrian anti-air fire bringing down an F16 fighter in northern Israel.

In its statement Saturday, Hezbollah said the "brave confrontation of the aggressing Israeli planes", including downing an F-16, ushers in a "new strategic phase" that puts an end to the violation of Syrian airspace and territories. "This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory", the spokesman said.

"Israel seeks peace but we will continue to defend ourselves steadfastly against any attack against us or any attempt by Iran to establish itself against us in Syria", Netanyahu said in a televised statement. Manelis said that the targets included the trailer from which the Iranians launched the drone.

The Israeli military said early assessments indicated the jet had been shot down by Syrian fire, but this was still unconfirmed. An inquiry will be also required to ensure the damage taken by the jets was not caused by complacence or overconfidence, both as it pertains to the jets' detection disruption capabilities and the pilots' own abilities.

Flights at Tel Aviv's global airport were briefly halted.

The Israeli military in the response of the event struck targets in Syria. Syria has also repeatedly said it will respond to Israeli airstrikes but has rarely returned fire. The military later said that the jet had crashed after the formation it was flying in was targeted by Syrian ground anti-aircraft fire. The military confirmed that the initial target in Syria - the unmanned aircraft's launch components - was successfully destroyed and released grainy footage of the strike. In response, the Israeli military carried out a large-scale attack on a dozen Syrian military facilities.

He did not say whether the drone was armed or for reconnaissance, but alleged it "was on a military mission sent by Iranian military forces" from an "Iranian base" in the Palmyra area.

Qasemi said the Syrian government had the right to defend itself "against any foreign aggression" in reference to the Israeli jet being targeted.

Danon addressed the Security Council members in a sharply-worded letter, writing, "This is not the first time that we have warned you of Iran's unsafe actions that undermine the situation in our region".

Syria's Defence Ministry said in statements on its website that its air defences responded successfully to the Israeli operation and hit more than one plane.