Israel strikes Syria after intercepting Iranian drone

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In a retaliation response, eight Israeli fighter jets attacked the site from which the Iranian drone was launched, according to the Israeli Defense Forces Spokesperson's Unit.

In a statement Saturday, the ministry said "of particular concern is the danger of escalation of tension within and around de-escalation zones in, the creation of which has become an important factor in reducing violence on Syrian soil".

"We urge all sides to exercise restraint and to avoid any actions that could lead to an even greater complication of the situation", the ministry said in a statement. "We consider it necessary to unconditionally respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and other countries of the region". The Russians say this poses an unacceptable threat to their soldiers.

Iran's involvement in Syria in support of President Bashar 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.

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"Our air defense systems responded to missiles fired by the Israeli enemy air force from over Lebanese territory on a military outpost in Damascus countryside and destroyed majority", an army statement said.

The Shi'ite Muslim Hizbollah group said the downing of the Israeli jet marked the "start of a new strategic phase" which would limit Israeli exploitation of Syrian airspace. Its Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi called them the claims "ridiculous,". The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the seven-year civil war, said the earlier Israeli raids had targeted several military bases in the east of the central province of Homs.

The United States fully supports Israel's right to defend itself against threats, a Pentagon spokesman said after Israel said it struck 12 Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria, including Syrian air defense systems.

With the downing of the first Israeli aircraft in over a decade, the rules of the game have changed on Israel's northern border. The military said that attack caused material damage.

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Syrian State TV quoted a military official Saturday saying that Syrian air defenses hit more than one Israeli plane.

"This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory". The plane crashed into Israeli territory after being fired by the Syrian anti-aircraft defense during the operation, said Lieutenant-Colonel Conricus, recognizing that the fall of the aircraft was probably related to Syrian gunfire.

As the Israeli planes came under attack, two F-16 pilots made a decision to eject, and their plane crashed in Israel's Galilee region, Conricus said. It said the bases are used by both Iranian and Russian military personnel deployed in support of the regime.

The Israeli military released grainy black and white footage of what it said was the drone's control vehicle in Syria being destroyed.

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The pilots of an F16 abandoned in flight their aircraft that crashed in the region of the Jezreel Valley (north).