The Israeli military shot down an Iranian drone launched from Syria into Israeli airspace early Saturday in what the military described as a “severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty.”
The military said its planes faced “massive” anti-aircraft fire from Syria which forced two Israeli pilots to abandon their F-16 jet as they sought to target the drone’s launching pad. One pilot was severely injured and both were taken to hospital for medical treatment after they landed in Israeli territory.
In response Israel launched a “large-scale attack” on at least a dozen Iranian targets in Syria, marking a dramatic escalation in tensions along the country’s northern border.
The Israeli strikes marked its most significant engagement since the fighting in neighboring Syria began in 2011 and said Iran would be held responsible for its outcome.
“This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory. Iran is dragging the region into an adventure in which it doesn’t know how it will end,” Israel’s chief military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said in a special statement. “Whoever is responsible for this incident is the one who will pay the price.”