An Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-16 fighter aircraft, which was carrying out strikes in response to the launch of an Iranian drone into its airspace, has crashed amid Syrian anti-aircraft fire, the country’s military said.
According to the military, the two pilots of the combat jet ejected and parachuted to safety after the crash in northern Israel, and were taken to hospital. Police said the F-16 crashed in the Jezreel valley in northern Israel.
“IDF (Israel Defence Force) has targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) into Israeli airspace. Massive Syrian anti-air fire, one F-16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Jonathan Conricus said on Twitter.
IDF has targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the #UAV into Israeli airspace. Massive Syrian Anti-Air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe. #Iran is responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty. Event ongoing, more to follow.
— Jonathan Conricus (@LTCJonathan) February 10, 2018
The suspected Iranian drone involved in the incident was later intercepted by a combat helicopter.
“A combat helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel,” the Israeli military said in a separate statement. The statement added that the drone was identified quickly and was “under surveillance until the interception”.
Syrian state media quoted a military source as saying that the country’s air defences opened fire in response to an Israeli act of “aggression” against a military base on Saturday, hitting “more than one plane”.
Red alert sirens sounded in areas of northern Israel and the Golan Heights due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Residents reported hearing a number of explosions and heavy aerial activity in the area near Israel’s borders with Jordan and Syria.