Syria, Iran & Israel: Strike. Counter-Strike. Repeat.

The F-16I and F-35I provide the Israeli Air Force with the capability to attack targets throughout the Middle East, including Syria

In the first half of 2018 the militaries of Israel and Iran have escalated the confrontation between their two countries, using Syria as the battleground. Last February, an Iranian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) crossed the border between Israel and Syria in the vicinity of the Golan Heights, where it was quickly destroyed by an Israeli AH-64D helicopter. The Israeli Air Force then launched an air strike against an Iranian-manned facility (which was controlling the UAV) at the Syrian airbase at Tiyas, about 170 km northeast of Damascus.

During this attack, an Israeli F-16I was damaged by a Syrian Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM); the crew ejected, landing safely in Israel. Two hours later, Israel conducted additional air strikes that destroyed a number of Syrian and Iranian facilities located within Syria.

Then on Thursday, 10 May, about 20 Fajr-5 rockets were launched by Iranian forces in western Syria towards the Israeli portion of the Golan Heights. Four of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli SAMs while the rest impacted in Syria. Israel responded to this with air strikes against dozens of Iranian facilities within Syria, as well as destroying several Syrian SAM launchers that had challenged Israeli aircraft.

These incidents contained some notable events: the first time Israel has publicly acknowledged attacking Iranian targets in Syria, the first time since 1982 that an Israeli aircraft has been lost to enemy fire, the first direct Iranian rocket attack on Israel, and the largest Israeli air attacks in Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

However these events are unlikely to bring about a significant change to the situation in Syria, and similar incidents will almost certainly continue for the duration of the Syrian Civil War – which has so far cost the lives of an estimated 400,000 people and created several million internally displaced persons and refugees.

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