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Syria shoots down Israeli F-16 after Israeli strikes reportedly cause Syrian casualties

Feb. 10, 2018 1:54 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 13, 2018 3:43 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- An Israeli F-16 jet was shot down on Saturday morning by the Syrian military as Israeli forces were carrying out what they claimed was a “retaliatory strike” in the Israeli-occupied Syrian territory of the Golan Height.

The Israeli military said in a statement that "a combat helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel,” referring to the occupied Golan Heights.

"IDF [Israel Defence Forces] has targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the #UAV into Israeli airspace. Massive Syrian Anti-Air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe," Israeli Military Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said on Twitter.

Israeli media reported that the Israeli jet crashed in northern Israel.

Al Jazeera reported that while Israel has carried out dozens of attacks over the past year in Syrian territory, Saturday’s events marked the first time the Syrian military shot down an Israeli plane.

Israeli news website Ynet quoted the Israeli army spokesperson’s office as saying “the Syrians and Iranians are playing with fire."

Reuters said in a report later on Saturday that an unnamed army spokesperson said "We are willing, prepared and capable to exact a heavy price from anyone that attacks us, however we are not looking to escalate the situation. This was a defensive effort triggered by an Iranian act of aggression and we are defending our airspace our sovereignty and civilians.”

Meanwhile, Syrian state television reported casualties among Syrian forces in the areas that were struck by israeli air forces, and in response, the Syrian forces fired at the Israeli jets.

According to Al Jazeera, “pro-government military alliance in Syria said in a statement later on Saturday that Israel would see a severe and serious response to its ‘terrorism’ from now on.”

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