UPDATE: Fox News is reporting that the Syrian anti-aircraft artillery involved in the shoot-down was provided by Russia. More details to follow.
ORIGINAL STORY: The Middle East conflict exploded overnight after Syria shot down an Israeli fighter jet, which crashed in northern Israel. The Jewish State responded by carrying out airstrikes on multiple targets inside Syria, including several Iranian military outposts responsible for most of the aggression.
It has received little coverage in the United States, Israel and Syria have been striking each other on a regular basis. Syria’s attacks are bolstered by Iran, who has set up outposts throughout the country and provided significant military hardware.
The Israeli F-16 fighter jet was hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire early Saturday. The pilots were able to parachute out safely over northern Israel, but the shoot-down was the first in the Israeli-Syrian conflict.
The shoot-down took place after an Iranian drone infiltrated Israeli airspace, but was quickly intercepted and destroyed by an Israeli attack helicopter, in video shown below. An Israeli attack helicopter then entered Syrian airspace and hit an Iranian military command vehicle in retaliation. Additional strikes against Syrian and Iranian targets continued after the shoot-down.
— Jonathan Conricus (@LTCJonathan) February 10, 2018
Syria isn’t just at war with Israel – it has been fighting its own people since 2011. Rebel forces have been fighting government forces, and according to the United Nations, nearly 300 Syrian civilians have been killed this week alone. Turkey is also fighting the Kurds living in northern Syria, along their shared border.
Israel was carrying out strikes after the launch of an Iranian drone into Israel. The drone was shot down.
Syria accused Israel of “aggression”, as Israel then launched more strikes.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) say they struck targets inside Syria in the latest raids, including three aerial Syrian defence batteries and four Iranian military sites.
Israeli strikes in Syria are not unusual, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman says, but the loss of an Israeli fighter jet marks a serious escalation.
The Israeli military said “a combat helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel”.
It tweeted footage which it says shows the drone flying into Israeli territory before being hit.
The military said that in response the IDF had “targeted Iranian targets in Syria”. It said the mission deep inside Syrian territory was successfully completed.
After coming under Syrian anti-aircraft fire, the F-16’s two crew ejected and were later taken to hospital. One of them was “severely injured as a result of an emergency evacuation”, the IDF said.
It was not clear whether the F-16 jet was hit by anti-aircraft fire or went down near Harduf for other reasons.
It is the first time Israel has lost an aircraft in combat since 2006 when an Israeli helicopter was shot down over Lebanon by a Hezbollah rocket, the Jerusalem Post reports.
All five crew on board – including a female flight mechanic – were killed in that incident.