The Israeli fighter plane that crashed Saturday likely was hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile, an Israeli army spokesman said.
The F-16 was hit after Israel struck an Iranian control base near Palmyra, inside Syria, said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the Israel Defense Forces spokesman. Israel says the Iranian base had been used to dispatch a drone into Israeli airspace earlier in the day.
“There’s enough information to say that our plane was downed by a ground-to-air missile,” Conricus said. “There will be an extensive review, and the Israel Air Force will analyze it and come to the proper conclusions.”
The last time Israel lost a combat plane to enemy fire was in the 1982 Lebanon war, the military said.
Saturday’s violence was the worst military confrontation on Israel’s northern border since the 2006 Lebanon war, and risked putting the Jewish state and Iran on a collision course, former military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said on a conference call Saturday night. The Israeli military said it struck 12 targets in Syria, including four belonging to Iran, in a “large-scale attack.”
“As long as Iran continues building its military presence in Syria, they’re definitely bringing the region closer to an escalation,” Conricus said. “We don’t think a war is in our interest, not the IDF’s and not the State of Israel’s interest, and that’s why we’re not looking to escalate the situation.”
© 2018 Bloomberg News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.