Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

Yahoo News Photo Staff

In its most serious engagement in neighboring Syria since fighting there began in 2011, Israel shot down an infiltrating Iranian drone Saturday and struck Iranian targets deep in Syria before one of its own jets was downed.

The sudden escalation offers what could be a harbinger of what lies ahead as the Syrian fighting winds down and an emboldened Iran establishes a military presence that Israel vows it will never accept.

Israel has issued several stern warnings of late about the increased Iranian involvement along its border in Syria and Lebanon. The Israeli Cabinet just held a meeting near the Syrian border to highlight the new threats, which it attributes to Iran’s growing confidence given the success of the government of Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war thanks to their support.

Israel called the drone infiltration a “severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty” and warned that Iran would be held accountable for its meddling, raising the specter of a larger confrontation in an area that has remained largely stable since a monthlong war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006. (AP)

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<p>Israeli security forces examine the remains of an F-16 Israeli war plane near the Israeli village of Harduf, Israel, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

Israeli security forces examine the remains of an F-16 Israeli war plane near the Israeli village of Harduf, Israel, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

<p>A picture taken in the northern Israeli Kibbutz of Harduf on Feb. 10, 2018, shows the remains of an Israel F-16 that crashed after coming under fire by Syrian air defences during attacks against “Iranian targets” in the war-torn country. (Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

A picture taken in the northern Israeli Kibbutz of Harduf on Feb. 10, 2018, shows the remains of an Israel F-16 that crashed after coming under fire by Syrian air defences during attacks against “Iranian targets” in the war-torn country. (Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

<p>A picture taken in the northern Israeli Kibbutz of Harduf on Feb. 10, 2018, shows the remains of an Israel F-16 that crashed after coming under fire by Syrian air defences during attacks against “Iranian targets” in the war-torn country. (Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

A picture taken in the northern Israeli Kibbutz of Harduf on Feb. 10, 2018, shows the remains of an Israel F-16 that crashed after coming under fire by Syrian air defences during attacks against “Iranian targets” in the war-torn country. (Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

<p>A picture taken in the northern Israeli Kibbutz of Harduf on Feb. 10, 2018, shows the remains of an Israel F-16 that crashed after coming under fire by Syrian air defences during attacks against “Iranian targets” in the war-torn country. (Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

A picture taken in the northern Israeli Kibbutz of Harduf on Feb. 10, 2018, shows the remains of an Israel F-16 that crashed after coming under fire by Syrian air defences during attacks against “Iranian targets” in the war-torn country. (Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

<p>In this image made from video provided by Yehunda Pinto, the wreckage of a jet is seen on fire near Harduf, northern Israel, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Yehunda Pinto via AP) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

In this image made from video provided by Yehunda Pinto, the wreckage of a jet is seen on fire near Harduf, northern Israel, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Yehunda Pinto via AP)

<p>An Israeli security personnel member speaks on his phone next to fragments of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile found in Alonei Abba about 2 miles (3.2 km) from where the remains of a crashed F-16 Israeli war plane were found in the village of Alonei Abba, Israel, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

An Israeli security personnel member speaks on his phone next to fragments of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile found in Alonei Abba about 2 miles (3.2 km) from where the remains of a crashed F-16 Israeli war plane were found in the village of Alonei Abba, Israel, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

<p>Fragments of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile found in Alonei Abba, about 2 miles (3.2 km) from where the remains of a crashed F-16 Israeli war plane were found, at the village of Alonei Abba, Israel, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

Fragments of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile found in Alonei Abba, about 2 miles (3.2 km) from where the remains of a crashed F-16 Israeli war plane were found, at the village of Alonei Abba, Israel, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

<p>Kids look at fragments of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile found in Alonei Abba, about 2 miles (3.2 km) from where the remains of a crashed F-16 Israeli war plane were found, at the village of Alonei Abba, Israel, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

Kids look at fragments of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile found in Alonei Abba, about 2 miles (3.2 km) from where the remains of a crashed F-16 Israeli war plane were found, at the village of Alonei Abba, Israel, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

<p>Israeli soldiers take positions next to the Israeli-Syrian border following the Israel attack in Syria early morning, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Atef Safadi/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

Israeli soldiers take positions next to the Israeli-Syrian border following the Israel attack in Syria early morning, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Atef Safadi/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

<p>UN soldiers watch the border between Israeli and Syria, in the Golan Heights, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Atef Safadi/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

UN soldiers watch the border between Israeli and Syria, in the Golan Heights, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Atef Safadi/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

<p>Remnants of an unidentified rocket that did not explode fell at the house of Sheikh Ismail Amasha in the town of Hasbaya, south Lebanon, near the Lebanese-Israeli-Syrian borders, Feb. 10 2018.(Photo: Zyad Shoufi/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

Remnants of an unidentified rocket that did not explode fell at the house of Sheikh Ismail Amasha in the town of Hasbaya, south Lebanon, near the Lebanese-Israeli-Syrian borders, Feb. 10 2018.(Photo: Zyad Shoufi/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

<p>A picture taken on Feb. 10, 2018, shows the remains of a missile that landed in the southern Lebanese village of Kaoukaba, near the border with Syria, after Israel’s military attacked 12 Syrian and Iranian targets inside Syria in what it described as “large-scale” raids following an exchange of fire earlier in the day. (Photo: Ali Dia/AFP/Getty Images) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

A picture taken on Feb. 10, 2018, shows the remains of a missile that landed in the southern Lebanese village of Kaoukaba, near the border with Syria, after Israel’s military attacked 12 Syrian and Iranian targets inside Syria in what it described as “large-scale” raids following an exchange of fire earlier in the day. (Photo: Ali Dia/AFP/Getty Images)

<p>A part of a missile is seen in a Lebanese army truck in Kawkaba, Lebanon, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Ali Hashisho/Reuters) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

A part of a missile is seen in a Lebanese army truck in Kawkaba, Lebanon, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Ali Hashisho/Reuters)

<p>A Lebanese soldier secures the area around a part of a missile in Ali al Nahri, Lebanon, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Hasan Abdallah/Reuters) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

A Lebanese soldier secures the area around a part of a missile in Ali al Nahri, Lebanon, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Hasan Abdallah/Reuters)

<p>Hezbollah supporters rally in the area of Fatima’s Gate in Kfar Kila on the Lebanese border with Israel on Feb. 10, 2018 to celebrate the crashing of an Israeli air jet and to denounce the Israeli attacks on Syria. (Photo: Ali Dia/AFP/Getty Images) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

Hezbollah supporters rally in the area of Fatima’s Gate in Kfar Kila on the Lebanese border with Israel on Feb. 10, 2018 to celebrate the crashing of an Israeli air jet and to denounce the Israeli attacks on Syria. (Photo: Ali Dia/AFP/Getty Images)

<p>Children carry a part of a missile in Quneitra, Syria, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Alaa al Faqir/Reuters) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

Children carry a part of a missile in Quneitra, Syria, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Alaa al Faqir/Reuters)

<p>A tractor pulls a part of a missilein Quneitra, Syria, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Alaa al Faqir/Reuters) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

A tractor pulls a part of a missilein Quneitra, Syria, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Alaa al Faqir/Reuters)

<p>Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad hold a checkpoint in Aleppo, Syria, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters) </p>
Israel downs Iranian drone, loses F-16, in airstrikes in Syria

Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad hold a checkpoint in Aleppo, Syria, Feb. 10, 2018. (Photo: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)

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