The Israeli military shot down an Iranian drone it said infiltrated the country early Saturday before launching a "large-scale attack" on at least a dozen Iranian and Syrian targets inside Syria. Responding anti-aircraft fire led to the downing of an Israeli fighter jet, the AP reports. Israel said the drone infiltration was a "severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty" and warned of further action against unprecedented Iranian aggression. The military said its planes faced massive anti-aircraft fire from Syria that forced two pilots to abandon an F-16 jet that crashed in northern Israel. One pilot was seriously wounded and the other lightly. Syrian officials reported large explosions in the center of the country, and the Syrian counter-fire set off warning sirens throughout northern Israel.
The Israeli strikes marked its most significant engagement since the fighting in neighboring Syria began in 2011, and Israel said Iran would be held responsible for its outcome. "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," Israel's chief military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said in a statement. Iran's Foreign Ministry rep called the claim Israel had shot down the drone "ridiculous," while the joint operations room for the Syrian military and its allies denied the drone violated Israeli airspace, saying it was on a regular mission gathering intelligence on ISIS militants. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman were convening top brass at military headquarters in Tel Aviv to discuss further response.
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