Israel is not interested in escalating the situation in Syria, and airstrikes on the territory of this country are of defensive nature, spokesman for the Israeli army Jonathan Conricus said.
"Syrians and Iranians, from our point of view, are playing with fire. Syrians — when they allow the Iranians to attack Israel from their territory. We are full of determination, ready and able to make everyone who tries to attack us pay the high price," the spokesperson stressed.
"We are defending our sovereignty, airspace and civilians… Our interest is to give Israeli citizens an opportunity to enjoy the weekend without further escalation," he added.
The IDF spokesman also noted that the incident, from the Israeli point of view, was not over yet.
The IDF will act determinately against such severe violations of Israeli sovereignty by Iran and Syria and will continue to act as necessary.— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) February 10, 2018
The IDF is ready for various scenarios and will continue to act according to situation assessments.
Earlier in the day, the Israeli army said its helicopter downed an Iranian drone after it crossed into the Golan Heights, controlled by Israel. Afterwards the IDF struck at what the Israeli military said were Iranian targets in Syria, prompting fire from the Syrian air defense systems. The Syrian side said it hit several fighter jets, however, the Israeli side refuted the claims saying that only one F-16 jet was downed in northern Israel.
#Iran is the aggressor here. They sent a #UAV on a military mission, violating #Israeli sovereignty. The #IDF is ready for all scenarios, urging Iran and Syria to cease aggression. pic.twitter.com/CQA6Z8yWWY— Jonathan Conricus (@LTCJonathan) February 10, 2018
However, a pro-Assad military alliance in Syria said in a statement that Israeli claim about Iranian drone entering its aerospace is a "lie," whereas the IDF during its retaliatory attacks targeted a drone base in Syria, which was used in fighting the Daesh terrorist group. The alliance's official also added that from now on Israel would see a severe and serious response to its "terrorism," though he said that he did "not believe matters would develop into a regional war."
The Golan Heights were annexed by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967, what has been repeatedly condemned by the UN. A disputed area still remains an apple of discord for Israel and Syria, provoking tit-for-tat strikes in border areas. Israel's occupation of the western two-thirds of the Golan Heights (known in Syria as Quneitra governorate) prevents the states from signing a peace treaty.