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Israeli air strikes against Syria 'biggest since 1982'

11 February 2018

The two pilots parachuted to safety before the crash in northern Israel.

Hezbollah, a Lebanese Islamist political party and militant group, said in a statement that the downing of the Israeli jet marks the "start of a new strategic phase". "This has been our policy and it will remain our policy".

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was joined by members of the powerful 10-member security cabinet for a briefing on Mount Avital that outlined Israel Defence Forces (IDF) readiness to tackle the ongoing threat posed by Hezbollah and other Iran-backed forces along the northern border. Tehran denies it is doing so.

A Syria war monitor says an unprecedented wave of Israeli airstrikes in Syria killed at least six Syrian troops and allied militiamen. Since then, an uneasy quiet returned to the Israel-Syria border - a familiar feeling in the area - with no additional strikes or retaliations from either side.

Giving more details on how events unfolded, the IDF's Conricus told CNN an Iranian unmanned drone had been dispatched on a "specific mission" inside Israel.

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It also appears that Russian Federation did not warn Israel of the massive anti-aircraft fire that would be directed at its warplanes.

Israel's raids came after it intercepted what it said was an Iranian drone entering its airspace from Syria, calling it an "attack". At one of these bases, Khmeimim Air Base, not far from the Mediterranean shore, is the Russian command bunker for its forces in Syria, which has a direct line of communication with the Israeli high command.

In a statement shortly after the Saturday dawn attack by the Israeli jets on a base in central Syria, a group of forces allied to Damascus said it loud and clear: a "severe and serious" response would now await Israeli "terrorism" - the alliance's word for the repeated Israeli violations of sovereignty. Gen. Tomer Bar, second-in-command of Israel's air force.

Both pilots ejected and were injured, one critically.

It is believed to be the first time Israel has lost an aircraft in the conflict.

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The official Israeli assessment is that this is likely not the last time that Israel and Iran will directly square off in Syria.

"As long as Iran continues building its military presence in Syria, they're definitely bringing the region closer to an escalation", Conricus said.

The large-scale offensive was apparently created to physically limit Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's ability to attempt such an attack against Israeli aircraft in the future, and to make him consider what a larger Israeli aerial assault would do to his military.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for "an immediate and unconditional de-escalation of violence" in Syria, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Netanyahu also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday night, a key regional player and an ally of both Israel and Iran.

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Tillerson on Sunday begins a Middle East tour that will take him to Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Kuwait.

Israeli air strikes against Syria 'biggest since 1982'