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Iran sneers at reports of Israel downing Iranian drone

11 February 2018

An Israeli minister warned that its brutal airstrikes in Syria were a clear message that it wouldn't tolerate an Iranian military foothold on its doorstep. "Iran made such an attempt today".

The Pentagon also said it backed Israel's right to defend itself.

The US backed Israel and expressed deep concern over the latest escalation.

"Let no one make a mistake", Netanyahu said.

Meanwhile, Lebanon's National News Agency reports an errant anti-aircraft missile "fired by the Israeli enemy" fell in a Lebanese citrus grove.

"It is absolutely unacceptable to create threats to the lives and security of Russian servicemen who are in Syria at the invitation of its legitimate government", it said. "We consider it necessary to unconditionally respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and other countries of the region".

That prompted Israel to respond with what the army called "a large-scale operation" targeting 12 Syrian and Iranian military sites.

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The United States "strongly supports Israel's sovereign right to defend itself", U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement issued Saturday afternoon.

"We urge all parties involved to exercise restraint and to avoid any actions that could lead to an even greater complication of the situation", the ministry said.

"We do not just talk, we act", said Cabinet Minister Yoav Galant, a former Israeli deputy chief of staff and member of Netanyahu's Security Cabinet. But Russia also maintains cordial ties with Israel.

"Iran wants to turn Syria into Lebanon II - yesterday we received a sampling of what can happen in our region", he added.

"There is no other air force in the world capable of achieving a goal like this within two hours", Yadlin said of Israel's response.

The Trump administration has come out in strong support of the Israeli action against Iranian targets in Syria, saying the United States backs its "staunch" ally's right to "defend" itself.

Conricus said it was intercepted well inside Israel, north of the city of Beit Shean, near the Jordan border.

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The Algemeiner reported on Saturday that Yadlin stated in a conference call that the ongoing conflict is born of "Iran's determination to build a force in Syria, and Israel's determination not to let them".

The Israeli army said that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)'s Quds Force have been active for a long period of time from the T-4 Syrian air force base near to Palmyra.

"I think that also the Syrians now understand well that the fact that they are hosting the Iranians on Syrian soil harms them", he told The Associated Press.

An Israeli F-16 jet targeted by Syrian anti-aircraft fire crashed in Israeli territory, leading the two pilots to eject from the aircraft. According to Israeli sources, it was the largest and most successful attack on the missile system in Syria since the Lebanon War of 1982.

Tehran has sent military advisers, volunteer militias and, reportedly, hundreds of fighters from its Quds Force, the overseas arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). "We are willing, prepared, and capable to exact a heavy price on anyone that attacks us. However, we are not looking to escalate the situation", Conricus posted on his official Twitter feed.

But while the Syrian missile repository may be restocked, and its air defense technology upgraded, the most consequential development may be that Damascus now has adequate attention to spare to confront an aggressive Israel.

The Israeli military released grainy black and white footage of what it said was the drone's control vehicle in Syria being destroyed. "The offensive marks Israel's most substantial involvement in Syria to date".

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But as the Syrian war winds down, Israeli officials have voiced increasing alarm that Iran and its Shiite allies are establishing a permanent presence in Syria that could turn its aim toward Israel.

Iran sneers at reports of Israel downing Iranian drone