A Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighter walks in eastern Afrin. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
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Israel will face "more surprises" should it again attack Syrian territory, Damascus said Tuesday, after Syria's air defenses shot down an advanced Israeli warplane during the fiercest flare-up between the old foes in 36 years. The F-16 jet was hit over northern Israel Saturday as it returned from a raid on a Syrian position blamed for launching an Iranian-made drone across the border. The downed F-16 was the first warplane Israel has lost to enemy fire since its 1982 Lebanon war.Israel has said it will press ahead with missions in Syria, where it has launched scores of sorties against suspected arms transfers to Hezbollah.Tehran's involvement in Syria, including the deployment of Iran-backed forces near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, has alarmed Israel.Syria and Hezbollah celebrated the F-16 shoot-down as a blow to Israeli military superiority.Turkey has sent in troops, lobbed artillery from across the border and used airstrikes in its operation in the Afrin enclave to rout the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People's Defense Units or the YPG. Ankara has also backed thousands of Syrian local fighters who are taking part in its ground operation in Afrin.
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