Vladimir Putin warned Benjamin Netanyahu to back off from military strikes in Syria after an Israeli warplane was shot down in the region on Saturday.
The Russian President told Netanyahu in a phone call on Saturday evening to avoid a course of action that could have ‘dangerous consequences for the region’.
At the time Israel had just completed a second round of bombardments against Syrian forces and what it says were Iranian installations in the country and was considering further strikes in retaliation for the loss of its jet, Haaretz reports.
But Putin, who has spent years propping up the Assad regime in the hopes of staving off American interference, put a swift end to the confrontation, it is reported.
Vladimir Putin warned Benjamin Netanyahu against escalating the conflict in Syria after Israel launched a series of strikes in the country after one of its jets was shot down
Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the call with Putin, saying he had made it clear Israel would defend its sovereignty, but made no mention of further bombardments
The exchange of fire began after Israel accused Iran of flying a drone into its territory, a claim which Iran later denied.
That prompted Israel jets to strike a region in Syria that Iranian forces are known to occupy, with one being shot down as it returned to Israel. Both pilots escaped, but one was badly injured.
It marked the first time an Israeli jet has been lost in combat since 1982.
Following the loss of the jet, Israel stated.it carried out strikes that destroyed 12 military sites, including four allegedly occupied by Iranian forces.
Netanyahu acknowledged his call with Putin on Saturday evening, saying he had told him of Israel’s intention to continue defending itself against any aggression and to prevent Iran from establishing a presence ‘in Syria or anywhere else.’
Russia’s foreign ministry stated.it was ‘absolutely unacceptable to create threats to the lives and security of Russian servicemen.’
Some of the targets struck by the Israeli bombardments are close to where Russian personnel are serving.
Netanyahu was keen to trumpet the success of the air raids during a Sunday morning cabinet meeting, but made no mention of further strikes.
‘We inflicted on Saturday a heavy blow to Iranian and Syrian forces,’ he said.
‘We made clear to everybody that our rules of engagement will not change in any way.
‘We will not stop to harm anyone who tries to harm us. This was our policy and this will remain our policy.’
Other Israeli ministers spoke of refusing to accept Iran entrenching itself militarily in Syria, as Netanyahu has stated.repeatedly. Tehran denies it is doing so.
The remains of the F-16 jet after it was downed over northern Israel on Saturday. Both pilots ejected by it was the first loss of an Israeli jet in combat since 1982
Investigators were seen picking through the remains of the downed F-16 fighter aircraft
While several analysts stated.they did not expect a further escalation in the coming days, some spoke of the possibility of the Syrian war entering a new phase.
Syria has become more emboldened to try to stop Israeli strikes inside the country, while Israel wants to maintain its ability to operate there when it sees fit, stated.Ofer Zalzberg of the International Crisis Group think tank.
Israel has sought to stay out of direct involvement in the Syrian war, but it acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes there to stop what it describes as deliveries of advanced weapons to Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.
Israel fought a devastating war in 2006 with Hezbollah, which along with Iran and Russia backs the Syrian regime in the conflict.
‘I think this incident is more likely to be contained because fundamentally it is a gradual attempt to renegotiate the so-called rules of the game,’ Zalzberg said, adding that Russia should mediate.
Witnesses stated.Israel had deployed a missile defence system in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the demarcation line with Syria on Sunday morning.
Saturday’s events began with Israel shooting down what it described as an Iranian drone that had entered Israeli airspace from Syria — which Tehran has denied.
On Sunday, Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus alleged the drone was a copy of a US model captured by Iran in 2011. He stated.the conclusion was made from an analysis of the drone’s debris.
Israel responded on Saturday with a raid on what it stated.was the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the drone.
During that raid, the Israeli F16 met heavy Syrian anti-aircraft fire and was hit, Israeli Air Force Brigadier General Amnon Ein Dar told army radio.
The pilots ejected and the plane crashed inside Israel. One crew member was severely wounded, but his condition was stated.to be improving on Sunday.
Israel then carried out what it called ‘large-scale’ air strikes inside Syria, including against what it described as Iranian targets.
Conricus warned on Saturday that Syria and Iran were ‘playing with fire’, but stressed that Israel was not seeking an escalation.
‘This is the most blatant and severe Iranian violation of Israeli sovereignty’ in recent years, Conricus said.
The raids came after an Israeli F-16 (pictured) was brought down as it returned to Israel on Saturday morning
The Israeli crashed in the northern Israeli kibbutz of Harduf
Iran dismissed Israeli ‘lies’ and stated.Syria had the right to defend itself against Israeli attacks.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said ‘Iran does not have a military presence in Syria, and has only sent military advisers at the request of the Syrian government.’
Russia stressed the need to ‘avoid any measure that could lead to a dangerous escalation’.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate de-escalation.
Netanyahu spoke with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after Saturday’s confrontation.
Washington backed Israel and blamed Iran for the escalation.
Tillerson on Sunday begins a Middle East tour that will take him to Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Kuwait.
Netanyahu has met regularly with Putin in recent months in a bid to convince Russia to keep Iranian forces away from Israeli territory.
Russia and Israel have also established a hotline to avoid accidental clashes in Syria.
Israel is technically at war with Syria and occupies a swathe of the Golan Heights that it seized in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.