Israeli fighter jets attack Syria, largest since 1982; Israeli F-16 downed

Responding to a barrage of Iranian anti-aircraft missiles launched from Syria over Israeli territory, the IAF carried out the largest air strike since the First Lebanon War in 1982.

By: TPS and World Israel News Staff

Israeli fighter planes conducted the largest strike on Syria since the First Lebanon War on Saturday morning, hitting a mobile Iranian control center that had sent a drone into Israeli airspace and then striking 12 targets in the country.

The incident began in the early hours of Saturday morning when an Iranian UAV was spotted on its way into Israeli airspace and was shot down by an Apache attack helicopter once it reached Israeli territory on the Golan Heights. In response to the Iranian violation of Israeli sovereignty, Israeli Air Force (IAF) jets flew deep into Syria to hit the drone’s launch and control center near Palmyra some 160 kilometers north of Damascus.

As the jets returned home, a barrage of Syrian anti-aircraft missiles fired at the planes as they flew over Israeli territory, causing one F-16 to crash. One of the pilots suffered severe injuries as the result of what doctors described as penetration wounds, suggesting that he may have been hit by shrapnel from an anti-aircraft missile.

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In an extensive briefing to military reporters following the incident, IAF Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Tomer Bar said the Israeli attack was the largest since the First Lebanon War in 1982.

“We attacked advanced long-range surface-to-air missiles, components of the [Syrian] air-defense system and various Iranian targets,” Bar said.

“We will not allow Iran to become entrenched in Syria and we will do everything necessary to prevent that,” he stated.

Bar said this was the first time that an Iranian drone, operated by Iranians, had crossed into Israeli territory. He described the drone as having a “low imprint” and challenging to detect. The IAF destroyed the mobile control center as it was on the move inside the T4 airbase and while under fire from surface to air missiles.

‘IAF’s aerial superiority has not been affected’

“The drone is in our hands and we will study it,” Bar said.

“The IAF is prepared for any scenario and any eventuality while continuing to guard Israel’s skies and maintain its freedom of operation,” he continued. “The IAF’s aerial superiority has not been affected. We have scored an operational success vis-a-vis the Iranian challenge and those who operated the mission.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, addressed the Security Council members in a sharply-worded letter. “This is not the first time that we have warned you of Iran’s dangerous actions that undermine the situation in our region. This incident proves every one of those warnings correct. Israel will defend its citizens and will not tolerate any violation of its sovereignty,” he stated.

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Danon called upon the Security Council to “ condemn this dangerous act and to put an immediate end to Iranian provocations. Security Council members must not stand idly by while Iran is instigating dangerous escalations and violating Security Council resolutions.”