Tensions escalated when the Israeli military shot down an Iranian drone who they suspect infiltrated Israel early Saturday before launching an attack on dozens of Iranian targets in Syria, Reuters reported. Israel, upon discovering the drone hovering over their territory, shot it down and sent warp...
Israel has long complained about the involvement of archenemy Iran, and Iranian proxy Hezbollah, in the Syria war. The Shiite allies have sent forces to back Syrian President Bashar Assad, who appears headed toward victory after years of fighting. Israel has said it will not accept a permanent military presence by Iran and its Shiite allies in Syria, especially near the Israeli border.
An Israeli fighter jet has crashed amid Syrian anti-aircraft fire after an offensive against Iranian targets in Syria, the Israeli military says. The two pilots ejected and parachuted to safety after the crash in northern Israel. They were taken to hospital. Israel said its aircraft, an F-16 jet, was carrying out strikes in response to the launch of an Iranian drone into Israel. The drone was intercepted. Syria opened fire after an Israeli act of "aggression", state media said. In a statement, the Israeli military said "a combat helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel". It said the drone was identified quickly and was "under surveillance until the interception". IDF has targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the #UAV into Israeli airspace. Massive Syrian Anti-Air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe. #Iran is responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty. Event ongoing, more to follow. The drone went down on Israeli territory and was "in our possession", Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Brig Gen Ronen Manelis said. The military said that in response the IDF "targeted Iranian targets in Syria", adding that the mission was successfully completed. Red alert sirens sounded in areas of northern Israel and the Golan Heights due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Residents reported hearing a number of explosions and heavy aerial activity in the area near Israel's borders with Jordan and Syria. Syrian state media quoted a military source as saying that the country's air defences opened fire in response to an Israeli act of "aggression" against a military base on Saturday, hitting "more than one plane". Iran - together with Russia - is a key supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose troops have been fighting rebel groups since 2011. Last November, a Western intelligence source told the BBC that Tehran was establishing a permanent military base inside Syria. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that "Israel will not let that happen". Iran has faced accusations that it is seeking to establish not just an arc of influence but a logistical land supply line from Iran through to the Shia Hezbollah movement in Lebanon. Israeli strikes in Syria are not unusual, the BBC's Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman says. But he adds that the downing of an Israeli fighter jet marks one of the most serious escalations yet.
Israel's military says it has targeted what it calls Iranian sites within Syrian territory after intercepting an Iranian-made drone. Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, Israeli military spokesman, said on Twitter on Saturday that the drone entered Israeli occupied Golan Heights. He also said one of Israeli fighter jets was shot down during their Syria operation, but the pilot ejected and landed safely. "IDF [Israel Defence Forces] has targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the #UAV into Israeli airspace. Massive Syrian Anti-Air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe," said Conricus. Israeli media said the jet crashed in northern Israel. Syria state television later cited a Syrian military official as saying that Israeli "aggression" targeted the Syrian army base in the central region of the country. IDF has targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the #UAV into Israeli airspace. Massive Syrian Anti-Air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe. #Iran is responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty. Event ongoing, more to follow.
KILIS, TURKEY – Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured a strategic hill in northwestern Syria on Sunday as their offensive to root out Kurdish fighters entered a second week. Associated Press reporters in the Turkish border town of Kilis heard constant shelling and clashes as Turkish aircraft flew overhead and plumes of smoke rose in the distance. The Turkey-backed forces have been trying to capture the hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, since the start of their offensive on Jan. 20, but have been met with stiff resistance. The Kurdish militia known as the People's Defense Units, or YPG, said Turkey sent reinforcements to the area following intense airstrikes on Sunday. The Turkish military said in a statement that its soldiers and allied Syrian opposition fighters captured Bursayah hill assisted by airstrikes, attack helicopters, armed drones and howitzers.
Russia on Wednesday identified the village from which a swarm of drones attacked its main military base in Syria and released photographs of the crudely constructed aircraft that were used. The revelations only somewhat cleared up the mystery surrounding what amounts to the biggest concerted attack on Russia's main military base of Hmeimim since the Russian military intervention in Syria began in 2015. Russia said it held Turkey accountable for the drone attack, calling it a breach of their cease-fire agreement in northern Syria, while Turkey accused Russia and Iran of jeopardizing the entire peace process by launching an offensive to take control of an opposition-held air base in the area. The Russian Defense Ministry named the opposition-controlled village of Muwazarra in southern Idlib province as the location from which a swarm of at least a dozen drones armed with crude explosives was launched Saturday, attacking the Hmeimim air base and the nearby naval base of Tartus in northwestern Syria. Under the cease-fire deal, Turkey is supposed to restrain opposition forces in Idlib province.
MOSCOW – The Russian military has urged its Turkish counterparts to tighten monitoring of opposition in northern Syria in the wake of a drone attack on Russian military bases in the country. Russia's Defense Ministry said its forces repelled a series of drone attacks Saturday, adding that out of the 13 drones involved, seven were shot down and six were forced to land without causing any damage. The official military daily Krasnaya Zvezda said the ministry sent letters to the Turkish military, asking it to deploy observers to Syria's northern province of Idlib to ensure that rebels don't launch more attacks. Russia has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad while Turkey has supported his foes, but they struck a deal last year to set up de-escalation zones in Syria, helping reduce fighting.
MOSCOW – Russia said Tuesday that a recent series of drone attacks on its military bases in Syria would have required assistance from a country possessing satellite navigation technology -- a statement that appeared to be aimed at the United States. Russia's Defense Ministry said its forces repelled a series of drone attacks Saturday on the Hemeimeem air base and a naval facility in Tartus, adding that out of the 13 drones involved, seven were shot down and six were forced to land without inflicting any damage. Without blaming any specific country, the ministry said data for the attacks could only have been obtained "from one of the countries that possesses know-how in satellite navigation." In Tuesday's statement, it noted a "strange coincidence" of a U.S. military intelligence plane flying over the Mediterranean near the two Russian bases at the moment of the attack. The Pentagon denied any involvement.
Mevlut Cavusoglu's comments came a day after Syrian government forces captured 14 villages as they advanced on Idlib, the largest rebel-held enclave in the country's north, amid a wave of airstrikes. The troops aim to reach a rebel-held air base and secure the road linking the capital, Damascus, with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest.