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Israel Launches Second Wave Of Air Attacks On Syria After Losing F16

The remains of an F-16 Israeli war plane are seen near the Israeli village of Harduf, Israel February 10, 2018. REUTERS/Herzie Shapira

In a second wave of air attacks Israel's military has struck 12 Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria in what it described as "large-scale" attacks following an exchange of fire earlier in the day.

"A few minutes ago, [Israeli aircraft]...targeted the Syrian Aerial Defense System and Iranian targets in Syria," a military statement said on February 10.

"Twelve targets, including three aerial defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran's military establishment in Syria were attacked."

The statement added that "during the attack, antiaircraft missiles were fired towards Israel, triggering alarms that were heard in northern Israel."

Syrian state news agency SANA said Syrian air defenses were responding to a "new Israeli aggression" and a military source said the defenses had thwarted attacks on military positions in the south of the country.

"The Israeli enemy has resumed aggression on some military positions in the southern region and our air defenses have responded to them and thwarted the aggression," a Syrian military source said in a statement.

Earlier on February 10, an Israeli fighter jet crashed after coming under fire from Syrian air defenses during attacks against "Iranian targets" inside Syria, an Israeli military spokesman said.

The Israeli pilots of the crashed F-16 were reported alive, though one was severely wounded, the military said.

Israel's initial raid came after it intercepted what it said was an Iranian drone entering its airspace from Syria.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi later rejected the Israeli accusation of an Iranian drone crossing into its territory or any role in shooting down an Israeli jet.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Israel had been targeting areas in the countryside southwest of the capital, Damascus, and in the eastern countryside of Homs Province for several hours since dawn.

A series of raids hit positions belonging to the Syrian government and its allies in central Syria around an air base and in the Homs desert, the observatory said.

Another set of raids targeted an area southwest of Damascus.

Israel has been sending strong warnings of the increased Iranian involvement along its border in Syria and Lebanon. It fears Iran could use Syrian territory to stage attacks or create a land corridor from Iran to Lebanon that could allow it to transfer weapons more easily to Hezbollah.

Israeli officials have been complaining to Russia to use its influence to limit Iran's activities near the Israeli border. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently visited Moscow convey Israel's concerns.

Israel has shot down several drones that previously tried to infiltrate its territory from Syria.

"This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory. Iran is dragging the region into an adventure in which it doesn't know how it will end," he said in a special statement. "Whoever is responsible for this incident is the one who will pay the price."

The confrontation was the most serious between foes Israel and Iran since the start of the civil war in Syria almost seven years ago.