Israel Strikes Syria After Iranian Aerial Intrusion

    James Phillips

    Security, Middle East

    Could it leader to a wider war?

    An Iranian drone flying into Israeli airspace Saturday triggered a mushrooming crisis involving retaliatory strikes and counterstrikes in Syria.

    After its provocative violation of Israeli airspace, the drone was destroyed by an Israeli helicopter, and Israel responded with airstrikes on an Iranian command-and-control trailer from which the drone was launched from a base in Syria.

    An Israeli F-16 fighter involved in that operation was shot down by Syrian missiles and crashed inside Israel, injuring one pilot. It was the first Israeli fighter plane lost in combat since the 1982 war in Lebanon.

    Israel responded by launching a second wave of attacks on 12 Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria, including Syrian SA-17 and SA-5 anti-aircraft batteries and Iranian forces deployed in the country in support of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

    This is not the first time that Israeli airspace has been violated by Iranian drones, but this incident comes amid rising tensions between Iran and Israel.

    Iran’s Growing Threat in Syria

    Last month, a senior Iranian official visited the Lebanese side of Lebanon’s border with Israel and made provocative comments about the liberation of Jerusalem.

    Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi—who lost Iran’s presidential election last year, but might still be in line to become the next supreme leader—was escorted within a United Nations buffer zone by Hezbollah officials who were uniformed and armed. That was a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that prompted Israel to warn the Security Council that Iran was destabilizing the region and subverting the U.N.’s peacekeeping role in Lebanon.

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