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Sunday May 20th, 2018 6:07AM

The Latest: Netanyahu speaks to Russia's Putin about Iran

By The Associated Press
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JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on Israel offensive against Iranian targets in Syria (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the latest developments in the region.

Netanyahu says Saturday that he informed Putin 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 backs the Assad and maintains a large military presence in the country. Netanyahu has met several times with Putin to coordinate military activities in the region.

Russia's foreign ministry appeared to criticize Israel's actions by saying it was "absolutely unacceptable to create threats to the lives and security of Russian servicemen."

Netanyahu says he also spoke to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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7:50 p.m.

Israel is calling on the United Nations Security Council to denounce Iran's dispatching of a drone into Israeli territory.

Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, says Saturday that "all of our warnings regarding Iran have proven correct. We will not tolerate any violation of our sovereignty."

Danon is calling on the Security Council to condemn Iran's action and "put an immediate end to Iranian provocations."

Israel says it shot down the drone after it penetrated Israeli airspace and destroyed the Iranian installation in Syria that launched it.

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5:15 p.m.

Lebanon's Hezbollah has hailed Syria's response to Israel's attack on Iranian and Syrian bases in Syria, saying it signals "a new strategic phase" that puts an end to violation of Syrian territories.

Israel said one of its F-16s crashed after it came under fire from Syria. Israel responded with a "large scale attack" on 12 bases in Syria. The incident was sparked by what Israel said was an Iranian drone infiltrating its air space. A joint operation room of Syria and its allies, Iran and Hezbollah, denied the drone entered Israel airspace.

In its statement Saturday, Hezbollah said the "brave confrontation of the aggressing Israeli planes," including downing an F-16, ushers in a "new strategic phase" that puts an end to the violation of Syrian airspace and territories. Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to back the troops of Syrian President Bashar Assad, said the developments mean "a decisive end to old arrangements."

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2:35 p.m.

Russia's foreign ministry is expressing concern over Israeli missile strikes in Syria and is urging the sides to avoid escalating the situation.

In a statement Saturday, the ministry said "of particular concern is the danger of escalation of tension within and around de-escalation zones in Syria, the creation of which has become an important factor in reducing violence on Syrian soil."

"We urge all parties involved to exercise restraint and to avoid any actions that could lead to an even greater complication of the situation. We consider it necessary to unconditionally respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and other countries of the region. It is absolutely unacceptable to create threats to the lives and security of Russian servicemen who are in Syria at the invitation of its legitimate government to assist in the fight against terrorists," the ministry said.

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1:50 p.m.

Lebanon is protesting Israel's use of its airspace to target Syria, saying it will complain to the U.N. Security Council.

In a statement Saturday, Lebanon's Foreign Ministry also said it supports Syria's "legitimate" right to respond to Israel's "aggression."

The statement said such "aggressive policy" threatens stability in the region.

Lebanon urged concerned countries to "rein in" Israel.

Israel said an Iranian drone infiltrated its airspace Saturday from Syria.

Meanwhile, Lebanon's news agency says a missile, apparently from the Syrian air defense, has landed in a lemon grove in a village in southwestern Lebanon.

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1 p.m.

The Syrian military and its allies are denying that the unmanned drone Israel says it shot down violated the Jewish state's airspace, saying it was on a regular mission gathering intelligence on Islamic State militants.

The Saturday statement on Central Military Media, which is allied with the Syrian military, called a subsequent Israeli attack on a drone station in Syria's central Homs province a "terrorist act," warning of "a tough and serious response."

The statement said Israeli jets targeted a drone base in central Syria whose mission is to gather intelligence on IS in the area. It said the station was hit while drones were on regular missions in the country's desert in Homs province.

The statement said it was "a lie and misleading" to say the drone had entered Israel's airspace.

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11 a.m.

An Israeli military spokesman says Iran is "playing with fire" by infiltrating Israeli airspace and will pay a heavy price.

Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus says Saturday that the unmanned aircraft Israel shot down was "on a military mission sent and operated by Iranian military forces."

Conricus says that in response Israel destroyed the Iranian site in central Syria that launched it. Subsequent attacks were carried out against four additional Iranian targets and eight Syrian sites. An Israel jet crashed after being shot at by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

It marks Israel's most significant involvement in Syria to date.

The military says it is "ready for various scenarios and will continue to act according to situation assessments."

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10:15 a.m.

The Israeli military says it has carried out a "large scale attack" against Iranian targets in Syria.

The military says it planes struck 12 targets Saturday including three aerial defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran's military establishment in Syria.

It says that during the attack anti-aircraft missiles were fired toward Israel, triggering alarms that were heard in northern Israel.

The attack came after Israel shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country. An Israeli F-16 was subsequently shot down.

The military says it is "ready for various scenarios and will continue to act according to situation assessments."

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10 a.m.

A Syria war monitor says Israel has struck targets in central Syria and the southwestern suburbs of the capital Damascus in two separate and successive waves of airstrikes.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the first round targeted in the central desert area where Syrian troops and their Iranian-backed allies including Hezbollah are known to maintain bases. It cited unconfirmed reports of casualties among Syrian government forces and allied militiamen.

The Britain-based Observatory, which monitors the Syria war through a network of activists on the ground, says the second round targeted outposts in the southwestern suburbs of Damascus.

The Israeli military said Saturday it shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country and struck Iranian targets in Syria that launched it.

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9:45 a.m.

The Israeli military says one of its pilots has been seriously wounded as a result of an emergency evacuation from his F-16 jet that came under Syrian fire.

The military says the pilot was evacuated Saturday to a hospital for medical treatment. A second pilot was lightly wounded.

The F-16 crashed in northern Israel after facing heavy anti-aircraft counter fire from Syria. Israeli planes had just struck Iranian targets deep in Syria in response to an Iranian drone that infiltrated Israel.

The military says it has the drone in its possession.

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9:20 a.m.

Syria state TV says its air defenses have responded to new Israeli raids near the capital Damascus, following an earlier raid in the country's center.

The TV broadcaster said sounds of explosions were heard Saturday in Reef Damascus province, near the capital. The state news agency SANA said air defenses responded to a "new Israeli aggression."

The new Israeli raids come hours after an earlier one in central Syria. Israel said it was responded to an Iranian drone infiltrating the country, shooting it down. Israel military said it struck Iranian targets in Syria that launched the drone.

Israel called the new escalation "severe violation of Israeli sovereignty."

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8:10 a.m.

Syria says its defenses have responded to an Israeli raid on one of its military bases in the country's center, calling it a "new aggression."

Syrian State TV quoted a military official Saturday saying that Syrian air defenses hit more than one Israeli plane.

The Israeli military says an Iranian drone infiltrated the country and it was shot down. The military also says it struck Iranian targets in Syria that launched the drone.

The military says that as part of the unusual event early Saturday one of its F-16 jets crashed in northern Israel.

Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said Iran was "responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty." respond to Israeli raid on one of its military bases

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08:00 a.m.

The Israeli military says it has shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country and has struck Iranian targets in Syria that launched it.

The military says that as part of the unusual event early Saturday one of its F-16 jets crashed in northern Israel.

The military says the pilots abandoned the aircraft and were safe. It says sirens sounded in northern Israel as a result of the anti-aircraft fire from Syria.

Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said Iran was "responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty."

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