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Iran rejects 'ridiculous' Israeli claim on downing Iranian drone

Israeli forces examine the remains of an F-16 Israeli war plane near the village of Harduf, Israel, on February 10, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

Iran has rejected as "ridiculous" claims by the Israeli regime that it had intercepted an Iranian drone launched from Syria, stressing the Islamic Republic's military advisory presence in the Arab country is at the request of Syria’s "constitutional and legitimate" government.

"Claims about the flight of an Iranian drone … are too ridiculous to be addressed because the Islamic Republic of Iran has advisory presence in Syria at the request of the country's legitimate and constitutional government," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Saturday.

"The government and army of Syria as an independent country have a legitimate right to defend [the country's] territorial integrity and counter any type of foreign aggression," he added.

The Iranian spokesperson emphasized that the "illegitimate" Israeli regime cannot cover up its atrocities and crimes against Muslim nations in the region by playing a blame game and spreading lies.

Resilient Syrians will not accept Israeli aggression: Velayati

Meanwhile, a senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs said the resilient Syrian people will never tolerate the Israeli regime's aggression.

Speaking to reporters in Tehran, Ali Akbar Velayati added that the Syrian government and nation have proved that they would sacrifice themselves to "safeguard their country's territorial integrity, security and independence."

He noted that the Syrian people have managed to achieve victory in an "international war", in which more than 80 countries participated to dispatch terrorists to the Arab country.

The Syrian military on Saturday hit at least one intruding Israeli F-16 warplane that attacked positions inside the Syrian territory, sending it down in flames and smoke.

Syria’s state TV cited a military official as saying that Syrian aerial defense had responded to Israeli “aggression” against an army base in the center of the Arab country.

Later in the day, the Israeli military claimed that it had attacked positions inside the Syrian territory after it intercepted an Iranian drone launched from Syria.

A pro-Syrian military alliance said that the Israeli claim about a drone intrusion was bogus.

The alliance said in a statement that Israel had targeted a drone base in Syria whose unmanned aircraft were used against the Daesh terrorist group.

It also pledged a “severe and serious” response to the Israeli act of “terrorism.”

A senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said on Saturday that Iran would confirm no report coming out of Israel “because the Israelis are liars.”

Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the IRGC’s second-in-command, told Tasnim news agency that Iran would only confirm a drone interception if Syria made that confirmation.

He also said that Iran has no military presence in Syria and that the Syrian Army was adequately capable of defending the Syrian territory.

Lebanon condemns Israel’s aggression against Syria

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry, in a statement, denounced Israel’s aggression against Syria, saying Beirut supports Damascus’ “legitimate right” to defend itself and respond to Israel's "aggression.”

The statement added that such "aggressive policy" threatens stability in the region and urged concerned countries to "rein in" Israel.

The Lebanese Defense Ministry also denounced the use of Lebanon’s air space for any Israeli strike on Syria.

Separately, Lebanese President Michel Aoun discussed the latest Israeli aggression against Syria with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.  

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