Jerusalem: Israel carried out extensive airstrikes inside Syria on Saturday, targeting what the Israeli military said were air defence batteries and army bases as well as Iranian positions, in a day of dramatic cross-border confrontations as the threat of a wider regional conflict looms.

The Israeli military said it launched the “large scale attack” after one of its F-16 fighter jets crashed under Syrian antiaircraft fire. Eight Israeli jets had been responding to an incursion by an Iranian drone launched from Syrian territory by bombing a Syrian air base, Israel said.

Seeking to contain Iran and its proxies, Israel has regularly carried out airstrikes inside Syria, though not on this scale.

If a direct hit on the Israeli aircraft is confirmed, it would be the first time an Israeli jet has been brought down by enemy fire since 1982. The strikes that followed were Israel’s most significant bombardment inside Syria since the beginning of the nearly seven-year civil war – hitting 12 military sites in the country – eight Syrian and four that Israel said were Iranian.

Read the article by Loveday Morris & Ruth Eglash (Washington Post) in The Sydney Morning Herald.

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