Israel downs Iranian drone, strikes Syria; F-16 crashes

Israel said the drone was operating from Israeli occupied Golan Heights and targeting Syrian rebels

Referring to the downed Israeli F-16, an official in the pro-Assad alliance said a "message" had been delivered to Israel.

The Israeli army said later that one of the pilots was in serious condition, according to The Jerusalem Post. Both were being treated at Rambam Hospital in Haifa.

Iran also issued a joint statement alongside the Syrian regime's allies - Russian Federation and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah - denying the allegations regarding the drone.

Israel, which also operates drones, has long maintained air superiority in the region.

Israel said its planes struck 12 targets in a large-scale attack, including three aerial defence batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran's military establishment in the war-ravaged country.

One of those planes, a US -made F-16, crashed on its return from that mission, landing in an empty field near Harduf, east of Haifa, in northern Israel.

An Israeli fighter jet crashed on Saturday after coming under fire from Syrian air defences during attacks against "Iranian targets" in the war-torn country, a spokesman said. "The pilots didn't report that they had been hit", Bar added.

"We can not confirm this report on the drone because Israelis are liars. if Syrians confirm it, Iran will confirm it as well", Brigadier General Hossein Salami said, according to Tasnim. "It's not clear whether the missile hit the plane but we are assuming it did".

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In Israel, uniformed military personnel could be seen gathered around the burnt and tangled metal in Harduf by mid-morning, with what appeared to be white foam on the surrounding grass. Along with its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, it has provided military support for Assad during the country's almost seven-year-long civil war, while backing Shiite militia forces in Iraq in their fight against the Islamic State. Israel has sought to avoid direct involvement in the Syrian war, but acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes there to stop what it says are advanced arms deliveries to Hezbollah. Jonathan Conricus said Saturday's incident marked the most "blatant and severe violation of Israeli sovereignty" yet.

However, on Thursday shots were fired from Syria at an Israeli military drone.

Gen. Hossein Salami, acting commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, did not acknowledge Israel's claim it shot down the drone.

"This is a severe attack and a breach of Israeli sovereignty perpetrated by Iran".

The confrontation started when a Iranian drone penetrated Israeli's northern airspace from Syria and a helicopter downed the un-manned object around 4:30 a.m., Israel's military said.

In Washington, President Donald Trump's administration has backed Israel's hawkish stance on Iran, and declared containing Tehran's influence an objective of its Syria policy. "The era of Israeli strikes on Syria is over".

The statement vowed a "relentless response" to "all further aggression". It said the station was hit while drones were on regular missions in the country's desert in Homs province.

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