There was an intentional attack, and Israel was forced to respond, first to the threat on her territory, and later to those who acted against it in enmity from Syrian soil.
Israel and Syria are technically at war, though the armistice line on the Golan Heights had remained largely quiet for decades until civil war erupted in Syria in 2011.
An IAF fighter jet was targeted by Syrian anti-aircraft fire, compelling the crew to bail out. An Israeli official told the Reuters news agency that the jet was shot down. Pilots of one of the plane recognized the Syrian ground-to-surface missiles locked onto their plane, giving them sufficient time to eject before the aircraft was hit.
"Our policy is clear: Israel will defend itself against any aggression and any attempt to violate its sovereignty", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, as cited by Israeli media.
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In the autumn of 2015, Israel and Russian Federation agreed to exchange data in order to safeguard their militaries against any accidental engagements during operations in Syria.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to visit the region in the coming week to discuss Syria and other issues, and is scheduled to visit Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and other countries.
He added that Iranian officials are acting in Syria only as advisers and do so "at the request of the... legitimate and lawful government". The targeting of the Israeli F-16 may in part have been meant to signal to Turkey and the United States that intervening in Syria is going to be associated with heightened costs.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said an arms depot that apparently belonged to "Hezbollah" was hit and exploded.
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The Israelis claim to have launched several follow-up strikes against Iranian positions in Syria, and the Israeli cabinet met Saturday morning to consider further action. The Iranians do not want to lose their bases in Syria, the anchors they have dropped there, whether through Israeli strikes or through a Russian ultimatum to leave the country or at least to avoid confrontation with Israel. "Iran only provides military advice to Syria", TV quoted Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying.
The chain of events started at about 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, when an Iranian drone penetrated into Israeli air space, said the IDF. "Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel", Netanyahu said. The Shiite allies have sent forces to back Syrian President Bashar Assad, who appears headed toward victory after years of fighting.
Russian Federation provides significant military backing to the Syrian government. If the conflict escalates, it could end up adding a risky angle to the ongoing Syrian conflict - and one that could wind up involving other powers in the region and beyond.
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