Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran and its allies in Damascus received a “serious blow” when the IDF struck 12 targets in Syria on Saturday in response to an Iranian drone’s infiltration of Israeli airspace.
“Yesterday we dealt a serious blow to the armies of Iran and Syria,” Netanyahu said on Sunday at his weekly cabinet meeting. “We made it unequivocally clear to everyone that our rules of engagement have not changed in any way.”
“We will continue to strike back at any attempt to harm us,” Netanyahu continued. “This has been our policy and will remain our policy.”
Israel has been able to launch operations in Syria against the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed targets in the war-torn country under deconfliction mechanisms that were set up with Russia in 2015. Unlike on Saturday, Israel has generally refrained from making any confirmation of responsibility for its alleged operations in Syria.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group, “6 members of the regime and its allies of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities” were killed in the IDF’s strikes in Syria yesterday.
— #المرصدالسوري #SOHR (@syriahr) February 10, 2018
Israel suffered two casualties of its own including a pilot and a navigator of an F16 that was targeted by Syrian anti-aircraft missiles after the operation. The pilot and navigator ejected themselves, and both were subsequently injured with the pilot in serious condition and the navigator sustaining light wounds.
“I was happy to hear that (the navigator) is on his feet and am pleased to hear that the pilot’s condition has improved,” Netanyahu added.
The condition of the pilot was upgraded on Sunday to moderately wounded.
Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin expressed his full agreement with Netanyahu’s emphasis on the need to tackle Iran’s continued aggression in neighboring Syria.
“The prime minister was right when he warned against this,” said Rivlin from Rambam Hospital in Haifa where the pilot and navigator were sent for treatment.
“We are not talking only about a nuclear danger but about a country that supports terrorism,” Rivlin continued. “Everyone needs to understand that Israel can not stand idly by when Iran wants our lives and says it with an open mouth.”