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White House: US supports Israel’s right to defend itself against Syrian, Iranian provocations

“Israel is a staunch ally of the United States, and we support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria,” the White House said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a joint press conference at the White House Feb. 15, 2017. Credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a joint press conference at the White House Feb. 15, 2017. Credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO.

The White House Press Secretary issued a statement on Sunday declaring U.S. support for Israeli military reprisals against Syria, and calling on Iran to “cease provocative actions” against the Jewish state.

“Israel is a staunch ally of the United States, and we support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria,” the White House said.

The US Defense Department issued a similar statement, calling Israel “our closest security partner in the region,” and supporting “Israel’s inherent right to defend itself against threats to its territory and its people.”

At approximately 4:25 a.m. on Saturday, an Israeli Apache attack helicopter shot down an Iranian drone controlled from Syria, according to IDF reports. Israel called the infiltration a “severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty” and launched an airstrike on Syrian anti-aircraft missile targets, including the drone launch site.

During the operation, some 25 missiles from 4 different Russian-made air defense systems were lobbed at the Israeli fighter jets. One F16 jet was hit, with the pilot and navigator successfully evacuating the aircraft, before the Israeli jet crashed in Northern Israel. The two crew members were taken to Maimonides Medical Center in Haifa, where they are being treated for injuries.

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