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Netanyahu Vows To Defend Israel Against Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country wants peace but will continue to defend itself against Iran.

His comments on February 10 come after antiaircraft fire downed an Israeli warplane returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria.

Netanyahu said he had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I reiterated to him our obligation and right to defend ourselves against attacks from Syrian territory. We agreed coordination between our armies would continue," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu added that he had spoken with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern over the Israeli strikes in Syria and urged the sides to avoid escalating the situation.

The Israeli military said it planes struck 12 targets on February 10, including three aerial-defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran's military establishment in Syria.

The attack came after Israel said it shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country. An Israeli F-16 was subsequently shot down.

The Israeli military said one of its pilots had been seriously wounded after the warplane came under Syrian fire. A second pilot was lightly wounded.

The F-16 crashed in northern Israel after facing heavy antiaircraft counterfire from Syria. Israeli planes had just struck Iranian targets deep in Syria.

An Israeli military spokesman said Iran was "playing with fire" by infiltrating Israeli airspace and would pay a heavy price.

The Syrian military and its allies denied the unmanned drone Israel says it shot down violated the Jewish state’s airspace, saying it was on a regular mission to gather intelligence on Islamic State militants.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP