Israeli plane was downed by Syrian missile, army spokesman says

Israeli soldiers inspecting the remains of an F-16 that was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft systems, near Harduf, on Feb 10, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TEL AVIV (BLOOMBERG) - The Israeli fighter plane that crashed on Saturday likely was hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile, an Israeli army spokesman said.

The F-16 was hit after Israel struck an Iranian control base near Palmyra, inside Syria, said Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, the Israel Defense Forces spokesman. Israel says the Iranian base had been used to dispatch a drone into Israeli airspace earlier in the day.

"There's enough information to say that our plane was downed by a ground-to-air missile," Conricus said in a telephone interview.

"There will be an extensive review, and the Israel Air Force will analyse it and come to the proper conclusions."

The last time Israel lost a combat plane to enemy fire was in the 1982 Lebanon war, the military has said.

Saturday's violence was the worst military confrontation on Israel's northern border since the 2006 Lebanon war, and risked putting the Jewish state and Iran on a collision course, former military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said on a conference call Saturday night.

The Israeli military said it struck 12 targets in Syria, including four belonging to Iran, in a "large-scale attack."

"As long as Iran continues building its military presence in Syria, they're definitely bringing the region closer to an escalation," Conricus said. "We don't think a war is in our interest, not the IDF's and not the State of Israel's interest, and that's why we're not looking to escalate the situation."

SPH Brightcove Video
Israel has attacked targets in Syria after an Israeli war plane was shot down on Saturday by Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Israeli military said its jet had been on a mission to strike an Iranian target after Iran launched a drone from Syria.

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