Israeli warplanes thundered over Syria while conducting airstrikes against multiple military targets after an Israeli jet was downed by Syrian antiaircraft fire on Saturday.
In a move that could have dire consequences for regional stability, Israel said it attacked 12 military targets, including one Syrian air base and Iranian facilities, according to The Guardian. This marks one of the most significant direct offensive military strikes by Israel against Syria since the beginning of the Syrian conflict.
The attack came after Israel alleged that an Iranian drone had penetrated its sovereign airspace early Saturday morning. The drone was shot down by Israeli Defense Forces.
Israel reportedly responded to the alleged incursion by attacking an air base near Palmyra, Syria. During the attack, one Israeli F-16 was shot down under heavy Syrian antiaircraft fire, gravely injuring one of its pilots. Israel subsequently launched offensive airstrikes against a dozen major military targets, which included four Iranian bases and a base located at the doorstep of the Syrian capital of Damascus.
“The IDF is ready and capable to inflict a heavy price on anyone that attacks us. This is a severe attack and a breach of Israeli sovereignty perpetrated by Iran.”
The Syrian government condemned the attacks, saying that it acted in self-defense. Iran denied that there was any breach of Israel’s airspace, calling the allegations “ridiculous” and labeling it as a pretext to conduct an illegal assault on Syria.
The attacks by Israel come after the United States conducted its own operations against pro-Syria government forces earlier this week.
On Wednesday, CNN reported that a U.S.-led coalition attacked Assad loyalists during an operation originally aimed at ISIS, which drew a stern rebuke from Russia. Russia accused the U.S. of illegally conducting activities on Syrian soil, in violation of international law.
The U.S. has been accused by Russia and Syria on several occasions of conducting illegal military operations in Syrian territory. The U.S. maintains that its presence and operations in Syrian territory are necessary for its fight against ISIS.
There is lingering concern that the U.S. could end up in another major conflict as it gradually ramps up its presence in the region. Some experts are comparing the U.S. involvement in Syria to its presence in Southeast Asia at the beginning of the Vietnam conflict.