IDF spokesman says Israeli F-16 fighter jet shot down amid Syrian anti-air fire, pilots safe

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IDF spokesman says Israeli F-16 fighter jet shot down amid Syrian anti-air fire, pilots safe

An Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter jet

© Baz Ratner / Reuters
An Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter jet

An Israeli F-16 fighter jet crashed in the country’s north after Syria responded with anti-aircraft fire to an Israeli operation targeting Iranian control systems in Syria, IDF said.

“Massive Syrian Anti-Air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe,” IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said on Twitter.

The incident took place after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) intercepted an Iranian UAV, which crossed from the territory of Syria into Israel. In response, the Israeli military attacked Iranian positions in Syria. The operation triggered anti-aircraft fire by Syrian forces.

READ MORE: Israel intercepts ‘Iranian drone’ & pounds targets in Syria – military

Israeli “aggression” targeted an army base in the central region of Syria, Sana reported, citing a military official. Syrian air defenses struck more than one jet responding to the aggression, the official said.

Images emerged online purporting to show the F-16 crash site and an operation to evacuate the pilots.

IDF spokesman Ronen Manelis earlier said“We identified an Iranian drone UAV which took off from Syrian territory. The drone was identified by IAF systems and was downed by an IAF helicopter. The Iranian drone fell in our territory and is in our possession.” He described Israeli operation in Syria as “a surgical action deep in Syria.”

Red alert sirens were heard in multiple areas across northern Israel, initially in the town of Beit She’an and later in the surrounding areas and Golan Heights. Local residents told Haaretz that they heard many blasts and reported heavy aerial activity in the area near the Jordanian and Syrian borders.

Syria has repeatedly protested Israeli attacks on targets inside Syria. Earlier this week, Israeli warplanes attacked military targets near Damascus from Lebanese airspace, with the Syrian Army claiming it destroyed most of the Israeli rockets. In January, Israel launchedthree attacks on military targets in Syria, using jets and ground-to-ground missiles. Back then, Damascus claimed that it shot down one Israeli jet and one missile.