The Israeli military confirmed that one of its planes crashed during an incident along the Syrian border in which they said an Iranian drone was shot down after it infiltrated Israeli territory.

Israeli security forces walk next to the remains of an F-16 Israeli war plane near the Israeli village of Harduf, Israel on February 10, 2018.
Israeli security forces walk next to the remains of an F-16 Israeli war plane near the Israeli village of Harduf, Israel on February 10, 2018. (Reuters)

Israeli pilots were forced to abandon an F-16 jet that crashed in northern Israel on Saturday after coming under heavy anti-aircraft counter fire from Syria, the Israeli military said. 

The pilots were injured and evacuated to a hospital, the statement added.

The incident took place after Israel shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country earlier on in the day, the military said.

The statement also said the Israeli military struck Iranian targets in Syria from which the drone was launched. The military called the incident a "severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty."

Sirens sounded in northern Israel as a result of massive Syrian fire.

TRT World's Arabella Munro reports.

Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said Iran was "responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty."

The military says it is "monitoring events and is fully prepared for further action."

Syrian regime-affiliated TV quoted a regime official saying its air defenses hit more than one Israeli plane. The regime official said the Israeli raids hit a base in the country's central area, and called it a "new aggression."

Israel has been warning of late of increased Iranian involvement along its border in Syria and Lebanon. It fears Iran could use Syrian territory to stage attacks or create a land corridor from Iran to Lebanon that could allow it to transfer weapons more easily to Hezbollah.

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. The military confirmed that the Syrian target — the unmanned aircraft's launch components — was successfully destroyed. The military's top military brass was meeting to coordinate Israel's continued response.

Israel's chief military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said Israel held Iran directly responsible for the incident.

"This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory. Iran is dragging the region into an adventure in which it doesn't know how it will end," he said in a special statement. "Whoever is responsible for this incident is the one who will pay the price."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies