Israel has struck what it described as Iranian targets inside Syria in raids, in retaliation to the Friday downing of an Israeli F-16 jet.
Israel’s raids came after it had intercepted what it said was an Iranian drone entering its airspace from Syria, which it labelled an “attack.” The incident marked the first occasion that Israel has publicly acknowledged attacking what it identified as Iranian targets in Syria since the conflict started.
“Twelve targets, including three aerial defence batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria were attacked,” a military statement said. Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus sent a warning to Syria and Iran, saying they were “playing with fire,” while he stressed that his country was not seeking an escalation.
“This is the most blatant and severe Iranian violation of Israeli sovereignty in the last years,” Conricus told journalists during a conference according to the Associated Press.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on all parties to “exercise restraint” and work towards “an immediate and unconditional de-escalation of violence.”
In a statement, he stressed that the Syrian people are suffering “through one of the most violent periods in nearly seven years of conflict.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the tensions in Syria in a telephone call, the Russian Interfax news agency cited the Kremlin as saying.
“They discussed the situation around the actions of the Israeli Air Force, which carried out missile strikes on targets in Syria,” Interfax said, stressing that Putin told Netanyahu there is a need to avoid any steps that would lead to a new confrontation in the region.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also called for “restraint” from all parties, adding it was “unacceptable to create threats to the lives and security of Russian soldiers” in Syria.