The Syrian government said on Tuesday that Israel would face “more surprises” in future attacks on Syria’s territory, after Syrian air defenses shot down an Israeli F-16 jet.
Syrian anti-aircraft fire downed the F-16 as it returned from a retaliatory bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria after the incursion of an Iranian drone into Israeli airspace early on Saturday. Both Iran and Russia are supporting the dictator Bashar Assad in Syria’s near seven-year civil war.
“Have full confidence the aggressor will be greatly surprised because it thought this war—this war of attrition Syria has been exposed to for years—had made it incapable of confronting attacks,” assistant foreign minister Ayman Sussan said.
“Allah willing they will see more surprises whenever they try to attack Syria,” Sussan said during a Damascus news conference.
The downed F-16 was the first warplane Israel has lost to enemy fire since its 1982 Lebanon war. Its two-man crew survived, with injuries, after bailing out of the stricken jet.
Israel retaliated by destroying around half of Syria’s anti-aircraft batteries with airstrikes on 12 targets, including 3 aerial defense batteries and 4 Iranian military targets in Syria.
At least 6 members of the Assad regime ‘and its allies’ of Syrian and ‘non-Syrian nationalities’ –Iranians– were killed in Saturday’s Israeli airstrikes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said without further elaborating.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israeli forces would press ahead with operations in Syria, where it has launched scores of sorties against arms transfers to Iranian-sponsored Lebanese Hezbollah terrorists.
In Kiryat Shmona on Tuesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters, “There are no limitations (on military operations), and nor do we accept any limitations … We will respond to every provocation.”
“We will continue to defend our vital security and other interests. And I would like to paraphrase the well-known saying: This is not the time to bark, this is the time to bite.”