Israel is beefing up its defenses near its border with Syria in the wake of airstrikes and a direct confrontation with Iran over the weekend.
“Israel boosted its air defense in the North following a significant confrontation between the Jewish state, Syria and Iran that led to the loss of an F-16i fighter jet,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
According to the news outlet, Israel’s air defenses include the Iron Dome, designed for taking down short-range rockets; David’s Sling missile defense system, designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium and long-range rockets and cruise missiles fired from of approximately ranges 25 to 185 miles; and the Arrow system, which intercepts ballistic missiles outside the earth’s atmosphere.
On Saturday, an Israeli helicopter reportedly took down an Iranian drone after it crossed into Jewish airspace having taken off from an air base in Syria.
In retaliation for the incursion, the Israeli Air Force struck the Tiyas (T4) Military Airbase in Syria’s Homs province and other targets in the country in a raid involving eight fighter jets.
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One of those jets was shot down by Syrian air defenses, marking the first loss of a combat plane due to enemy fire since Israel’s war in Lebanon in 1982.
According to the Israeli Defense Force, Iran and the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have been operating at the T4 base “for a long time, backed by Syrian- army forces and with the approval of the Syrian regime.”
“Iran has been using the base in recent months for the purpose of transferring weaponry to be used against Israel,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.
“These actions by Iran at the base are ostensibly carried out under the guise of supporting the fighting against the global Islamic jihad forces, but the actions carried out in the past 24 hours prove that its real concern is direct, violent action against Israel,” the IDF added.
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A senior official told The Post that Iran is intent on entrenching itself in Syria and using it as a base to attack Israel.
“We do not know what the mission of the Iranian drone was. It is their most advanced drone and they did not expect our radar to detect its penetration into our territory,” the official stated. “Our aerial freedom will not be harmed. We will continue to destroy targets.”
The White House issued a statement on Saturday affirming Israel’s “right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria,” and calling on Iran and its allies to “cease provocative actions.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke following Saturday’s strikes. Russia is seen as a key player in the region, given its large military presence in Syria in support of the regime of President Bashar al Assad and its backing of Iran.
Reuters reported that Putin told Netanyahu to avoid escalating tensions in Syria, which U.S. Middle East expert Joel Rosenberg found ironic.
“Unbelievable,” Rosenberg tweeted on Sunday. “Putin is helping Assad and the ayatollahs slaughter Syrians (even using chemical weapons) and reduce a modern Arab country to rubble, yet Putin has the gall to tell Israel to ‘avoid escalation.’”
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