Israel strikes targets in Syria as larger regional conflict looms

Matt Saintsing
February 12, 2018 - 11:04 am
israeli jet

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

An Israeli jet was downed over the weekend, which triggered an unprecedented Israeli attack against Syrian regime and Iranian targets in Syria, stoking regional tensions as the war against ISIS begins to wind down.

The Israeli military said it launched the “large scale attack” on Saturday after one of its F-16 fighter jets was shot down by Syrian antiaircraft fire, according to the Washington Post. And while this isn’t the first time Israel carried out airstrikes in Syria, aimed at restricting Iran and its proxies, this is the largest attack since the Syrian civil war began nearly seven years ago.  

This marks the first time an Israeli jet has been downed by enemy fire since 1982.

Hitting 12 military sites in Syria—eight Syrian and four that Israel claims were Iranian—Israel extends its military reach as a new conflict is brewing involving great power politics in the Middle East.

Iran’s proxies in Syria threaten Israel, along with Syrian President Bashar a-Assad’s government. Israeli Defense Forces had shot down a drone flying from Syria into Israel, launched from a base with Iranian military personnel.

Iran disputes the Israeli account, describing the claim that an Iranian drone had crossed the border as “ridiculous,” according to the Washington Post.

Syrian counter-fire damaged an Israeli F-16, forcing both pilots to eject, which prompted the attack against Syrian air defenses.

Israel’s closest and most important ally, the United States, has focused almost exclusively on defeating the Islamic State, and while the White House voiced its support for Israel’s right to defend itself on Saturday, it has yet to offer material help.

The attack comes just as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson kicked-off a five-nation trip to the Middle East, with no plans to visit Israel.