Iran rejects Israeli 'lies', says Syria acting in 'self-defence'

Iran rejects Israeli 'lies', says Syria acting in 'self-defence'
Israel's military warned Iran and Syria were 'playing with fire' but that it was not seeking an escalation after a confrontation that resulted in large-scale Israeli air strikes inside Syria.
2 min read
10 February, 2018

Iran on Saturday denounced Israeli "lies" and said the Syrian regime had the right to "legitimate self-defence" in response to airstrikes launched by Tel Aviv after an alleged drone incursion into its territory.

"Iran believes Syria has the right to legitimate self-defence. To cover their crimes in the region, Israeli officials are resorting to lies against other countries," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told AFP

Israel struck targets inside Syria on Saturday after intercepting what it said was an Iranian drone entering its airspace from Syria, which it labelled an "attack".

An Israeli fighter jet crashed under fire from Syrian air defences.

That prompted Israel to unleash a dozen retaliatory strikes on both Syrian and Iranian targets inside Syria.

"The allegations regarding surveillance by an Iranian drone are too ridiculous for words," said Ghasemi.

Iran issued a joint statement alongside the other main allies of the Syrian regime, Russia and Lebanese militant group Hizballah, vowing a "relentless response" to Israeli "aggression".

The statement said the Israeli airstrikes had targeted drones used in the fight against "terrorist organisations, primarily Daesh", referring to the Islamic State group.

"Iran does not have a military presence in Syria, and has only sent military advisers at the request of the Syrian government," Ghasemi told AFP.

"We deny all unfounded allegations by the Zionists. The government and Syrian army are only defending themselves against Israeli aggression."

Hizballah praised the downing of the Israeli jet, calling it a "new strategic era which puts an end to the violation of Syrian airspace and territory", the group said in a statement published by Lebanon's ANI news agency.

Lebanon also criticised the Israeli strikes, and said it would write a letter of protest to the United Nations over the use of its airspace for the raids, according to a statement from its foreign ministry.

Earlier, Israel's military said Iran and Syria were "playing with fire" but that it was not seeking an escalation after a confrontation resulted in large-scale Israeli air strikes inside Syria.

"This is the most blatant and severe Iranian violation of Israeli sovereignty in the last years," Conricus said, referring to what he described as an Iranian drone entering Israeli airspace from Syria.

"That's why our response is as severe as it is."

The confrontation was the most serious between arch-foes Israel and Iran since the civil war in Syria began in 2011.