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Netanyahu: Israeli Strikes Dealt 'Severe Blows' To Iran, Syria


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli military has dealt "severe blows" to Iranian and Syrian forces with a series of air strikes in Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on February 11 that Israel "clarified unequivocally" that it will "continue to strike any attempt to strike us."

The February 10 Israeli air strikes came after the military said one of its helicopters downed an Iranian drone that had infiltrated Israel’s airspace earlier in the day.

Israel said it attacked Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria, during which an F-16 warplane was fired upon, causing it to crash. It said the two pilots were able to parachute to safety before the jet came down in northern Israel.

Israel said it carried out a second wave of strikes on both Syrian and Iranian military targets.

Syria acknowledged the Israeli attacks on sites within its borders but denied that any of its drones had entered Israel’s airspace. State media said Syrian air defenses opened fire in response to an Israeli attack on a military base, hitting more than one plane.

Tehran rejected Israel’s version of the events as “ridiculous” and "lies," saying Syria had the right to defend itself in response to the strikes.

Israeli warplanes have bombed Syrian targets in the past.

Iran, along with Russia, has given President Bashar al-Assad's government crucial support throughout Syria's nearly seven-year civil war in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed since it began with a crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 2011.

Tehran, Israel's archenemy, has reportedly sent hundreds of military advisers and fighters from its Quds Force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) overseas arm.

Israel has pledged to prevent Syria’s territory being used for Iran to set up bases or transfer high-quality weaponry to Lebanon's Hizballah group, which is fighting alongside Assad’s forces.

Also on February 10, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "following closely the alarming military escalation throughout Syria and the dangerous spillover across its borders."

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement that Guterres stressed that all parties in Syria and in the region must abide by international law amid the flare-up in violence.

Netanyahu on February 10 said that "Israel seeks peace" but will continue to defend itself against Iran.

He also said he had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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

The United States said it "strongly supports" Israel's right to defend itself.

"Iran's calculated escalation of threat and its ambition to project its power and dominance, places all the people of the region -- from Yemen to Lebanon -- at risk,"‎ State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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