US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday defended Israel's downing of a drone it claimed Iranian-backed forces launched into its territory Saturday, referring to the the inflitration as an "egregious and umprompted escalation."
At a UN Security Council briefing on the Syrian civil war, Haley backed Israel's claim that the provocation was Iran's doing, saying "Iranian-backed militias in southern Syria launched a drone into Israeli territory."
"Iran was once again doing what it does – risking conflict and testing the will of its neighbors and opponents to resist its aggression," she said. "Israel rightly took action to defend itself. The United States will always stand by our ally when confronted with provocations from Iran, Hezbollah or the Assad regime."
Haley tied the incident to an attack by pro-Syrian regime forces on US-backed coalition forces last week, accusing "actors," likely a veiled reference to Iran, of engaging in "a dangerous game of pushing boundaries, instead of behaving responsibly and committing to peace."
"The Assad regime has become a front for Iran, Hezbollah and their allies to advance the irresponsible and dangerous agenda for the Middle East," Haley said.
Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, reaffirmed Haley's remarks on Twitter, urging the international community to ensure Iran doesn't entrench itself in Syria.
According to IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, while the drone was Iranian and navigated by Iranian operators
, Syria’s choice to fire its air defenses against Israeli jets reveals it has decided to interfere in Israel’s fight against the Islamic Republic’s activity in the country.
“Iran’s mask has been removed. It is clear that they are using Syria as a launchpad for activity against Israel,” he said. “Iran is dragging the region into an adventure and will pay the price for it.”
In response, Israeli aircraft targeted the drone’s launch site deep inside Syria, in the most extensive Syrian antiaircraft attack since 1982, in the face of heavy antiaircraft missile fire. Two Israeli crew members were wounded after ejecting from their F-16 when they recognized that one of the enemy missiles had locked onto their jet.
"The road to peace will come when all of the parties stop provoking each other, and choose the responsible path," Haley said.Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.