On February 10th Iran launched a drone into Israel from Tiyas airbase in Syria’s central Homs region. In response Israel used an Apache attack helicopter to down the drone. It is unknown whether or not the drone was armed.
Israel then sent four fighter jets into Syria to strike the Tiyas airbase. During the attack Syrian anti-aircraft batteries downed one jet which crash-landed in Israel.
Israel then launched 8 fighter jets for another raid into Syria striking 12 targets, a mixture of Syrian air defense batteries and Iranian assets.
On Saturday evening, Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Vladimir Putin over the phone informing him that Israel intends to defend its self from any form of aggression and to prevent Iran from establishing a presence within Syria. Recent reports have suggested that Russia has continued to deploy advanced S-400 Air Defense system in Syria, and Russian defense officials claim to have integrated the their Air Defense network with the Syrian system.
One of Israel’s primary objectives has been to intervene when necessary to prevent Iran from using Syria as a corridor to Lebanon to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah.
Hezbollah hailed the Syrian air defenses after they shot the fighter jet down. They claim that this is a new era in which Israel cannot enter Syrian airspace without confrontation.
Israeli security officials have publicly stated of that the Iranian drone which entered Israeli airspace was a copy of a U.S. drone captured by Iran in December of 2011. Iran denied the claim.
Iran has for some time been working on their drone program, which includes “suicide” drones armed with explosives which have reportedly been provided to Hezbollah according to the U.S. Army. In 2012 Hezbollah threatened to use such drones to target nuclear infrastructure in Israel. By 2015, Hezbollah had a fully operational drone base in Lebanon from which to target Israel.
On February 6th of 2018 Iran announced a mass production of bomb-carrying drones which can carry smart munitions and strike a variety of targets.
Russian foreign ministry officials said that they were concerned about these recent events, and that everyone must exercise restraint to avoid further actions.
The US also commented on the recent events in Israel, the Department of State said that the US is deeply concerned about the escalation in violence over Israel’s border and supports that Israel has a right to defend itself.
The US continues to push back on Iran’s malign activities and has called for an end to Iranian behavior that threatens the stability of the region.
As Iran is slowly gaining confidence within their military due to their success in Syria, they are beginning to test Israel to see how they will react to certain situations. After Israel’s retaliatory attack no further escalation has occurred.
The United States condemned Iranian aggression and backed Israel’s right to self-defense while Russia publicly urged de-escalation and caution for all parties.
Absent some miscalculation on Iran’s part it seems unlikely that there will be further escalation on this issue. We can expect that Iran will continue to test the Israeli border and its response, both directly and through proxies in the short to medium-term, and that the use of unmanned vehicles will continue to play a prominent role in Iran’s provocative tactics.