Israeli air strikes against Syria 'biggest since 1982'

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Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said on Saturday that the Department of Defense did not participate in Israel's military operation, but said they fully supported the U.S.'s "closest security partner in the region", especially in its "inherent right to defend itself against threats to its territory and its people".

Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group said the downing of the plane marked the "start of a new strategic phase" that would limit Israel's ability to enter Syrian airspace. "We made unequivocally clear to everyone that our modus operandi has not changed one bit".

"Iran's presence in Syria is essentially advisory and based on requests from that country's legal government", Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said on Saturday, according to the state-run Mehr news agency.

Russia, whose forces began intervening on behalf of Assad in 2015, expressed its concern and urged both sides to exercise restraint and avoid escalation.

In the meantime, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's press office said that Netanyahu agreed in a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin that interaction between the two countries' militaries would be continued.

Undoubtedly, the downing of one of its warplanes was a wakeup call to the IAF, on the eve of what's shaping up to be a full-out clash with its worst enemies in the region.

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Meanwhile, things are getting evermore complicated in the country's almost seven-year war. The Syrian army could not be reached for comment.

The United States said it "strongly supports" Israel's right to defend itself.

"A$3 ll concerned in Syria and the region have a responsibility and must abide by global law and relevant Security Council resolutions", Antonio Guterres said in a statement on Saturday.

Giving more details on how events unfolded, the IDF's Conricus told CNN an Iranian unmanned drone had been dispatched on a "specific mission" inside Israel.

Israeli officials attempted a lot of damage control, from claiming that the Israeli warplane had managed to leave Syrian airspace when it was shot, to saying that they were still investigating the cause of its crash some 24 hours after it was shot down.

The F-16 crashed on its return from the mission, coming down in an empty field near Harduf, east of Haifa.

The area was quiet by mid-afternoon.

Noting that Israel uses advanced electronic technology to distract and confuse the Sa-5 and S-300, in the end, the most advanced technology can not guarantee a 100% protection "in skies that are saturated with dozens of missiles", Inbar said. Syria has fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli jets at least three times in recent months.

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In response, Israeli F-16 fighter jets took off to strike the launch site and were met by massive Syrian antiaircraft fire, over 20 missiles launched from SA-5 and SA-17 batteries.

Israel has sought to stay out of direct involvement in the Syrian war, but it acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes there to stop what it describes as deliveries of advanced weapons to Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

"We are not satisfied with Secretary-General's words", Danon said, noting that Guterres had failed to mention Iran directly.

Russian Federation is an ally of Iran, which has sent troops and advisors to back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Netanyahu, visiting the Golan on Tuesday, peered across the border into Syria and in public remarks warned Israel's enemies not to test its resolve.

"This action by the Zionist entity is a condemnable terrorist attack ... and any new aggression will face a harsh and serious response", it said.

"Israel responded in a very strong manner, and in the context of this exchange, we lost a plane", Kupperwasser added.

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