BEIRUT: In a major flare up in Middle East, an Israeli F-16 bomber was shot down during Israeli raid on an Iranian military position inside Syria soon after Israel claimed downing an Iranian drone inside occupied territory.
The Israeli bomber burst into flames and the pilots, who ejected, were injured and evacuated to a hospital. Sirens sounded in northern Israel as a result of massive Syrian fire.
Syria's state-run SANA news agency said Israel targeted a military post and Syrian air defenses hit more than one plane.
Earlier an unmanned aircraft, which was launched from a Syrian base in the Homs desert, was identified approaching Israeli airspace by the IDF around 4am, setting off alarms across Golan
Heights and the Jordan Valley. Once entering occupied territory it was intercepted by an Israeli Air Force near the town of Beit She'an.
Explosions were heard along the Lebanese-Syrian border, Lebanon's official National News Agency said. In Israel, air raid sirens went off in the Israeli-controlled area of the Golan Heights.
The Syrian government has repeatedly accused Israel of attacking military sites on its soil.
Tensions on Israel's northern border have been rising in recent months as Israel fears that Iran is entrenching itself deeper into Syria with its presence on Israel's borders growing in strength.
Israel has shot down several drones that previously tried to infiltrate its territory from Syria. The targeting of an Iranian site in response, however, marks an escalation in the Israeli retaliation.
On Thursday Syrian forces fired at an IDF drone with shrapnel hitting a home in the Druse village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights.
Earlier in the week Israel was reported to have struck an Iranian base west of the capital of Damascus.
Syria's official news agency SANA said Israeli fighter jets flying in Lebanese airspace fired a number of missiles towards the area of Jamraya research center targeting an Iranian base. While a number of missiles did hit their intended targets, several others were intercepted by the Syrian air defenses, the report said.
Israel rarely comments on foreign reports of military activity in Syria but has publicly admitted to having struck over 100 Hezbollah convoys and other targets in Syria, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that strikes will continue when "we have information and operational feasibility."