IDF responds to uninvited Iranian drone, loses F-16 in the process

UN officials, Church leaders decry escalating situation in Syria

Iran has vowed to destroy Israel. Israel then retaliated with airstrikes on eight Syrian and four Iranian military targets within Syria.

An Israeli F-16 flying a raid on alleged drone bases in central Syria was shot down by the Syrian Air Defense Force. The U.S. stance on Syria matters a lot to Israel, and it might help to define how much freedom of action Israel would have in the future.

Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus made it clear to the world via social media Sunday that the Iranians and Syrians were the losers in the latest Middle East confrontation that saw the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) destroy and confiscate Iran's unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) before deploying F-16s deep inside Syria to pummel the drone's command center from where it was launched - along with 11 other Syrian targets.

"We will continue to strike at every attempt to strike at us", he told his Cabinet.

They are vying for control of the Middle East in the wake of the Syrian civil war.

The powder keg was lit in March 2011, amid the Arab Spring uprisings against autocratic regimes.

Israel accuses Iran, who is supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's ongoing civil war, of aiding terrorist groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon.

By 2014, IS militants began seizing large swaths of Syrian territory, including Raqqa as its de facto capital and the oil region Deir ez-Zor, as well as territory in Iraq. Carving up the country and creating zones of influence for major players will ultimately lead to new clashes.

Another irony is that the USA, once vehemently opposed to involvement in Syria, now occupies one-third of the country. In September 2014, U.S. warplanes that had been bombing IS forces in Iraq started bombing targets in Syria.

Assad is also supported by Russian Federation and Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. Instead, it reached a deal with Russian Federation to terminate the Syrian chemical weapon arsenal. But its presence comes at the backdrop of two other interventions, by Russian Federation and Turkey, which further complicate the situation for the US. Israel, Russia and Turkey all lost military aircraft during operations in Syria in the past week, and all three are now working at cross purposes.

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Russian Federation must collaborate to defuse a handful of flashpoints that could easily lead to a massive regional war. Having accumulated vital battle experience in Syria, Hezbollah requires additional weapons to match its growing capabilities. It means none of the local parties has enough power, resources - or willingness to compromise - to stabilize Syria from the bottom up, and none of the external parties is ready to invest enough power and resources to stabilize it from the top down.

During the air operation an Israeli F16 was shot down by intense Syrian antiaircraft missile fire. In January, a Russian fighter flew within five feet of a U.S. reconnaissance plane before crossing the aircraft's flight path over the Black Sea, according to the Military Times.

The ICG's Zalzberg agreed there was little taste for war.

Who is claiming the upper hand?

The minister blasted the Syrian army and Hezbollah for simply doing Iran's bidding as the two arch enemies square up to each other once again.

The Syrian state news agency, SANA, described the action as "an aggression" by the coalition against "popular forces" that were fighting the Islamic State group and the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

In the past, the Americans were an important part in the Israelis' policy regarding Syria and Lebanon.

What's the situation on the ground?

In 2003 I wrote a column in the run-up to the US toppling of Saddam Hussein, which I supported, in which I warned: "The first rule of any Iraq invasion is the pottery store rule: You break it, you own it".

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