Iran drone intercepted in Feb was Strike Assignment

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Iranian Drone Shot Down in February by Israeli Air Force Was Carrying Explosives for Direct Attack

Israel said on Friday that an Iranian drone shot down in February by its air force had been armed with explosives meant to carry out the first direct attack on Israeli territory by the Tehran regime.

The advanced Iranian UAV was identified and monitored by Israeli defense systems until it was intercepted and "did not pose a danger" while it was inside Israeli territory, the army statement added.

Israel has not confirmed or denied carrying out the strike on the Syrian base, but Israel's military said the drone it downed in February was sighted taking off from that base.

In a letter to US District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan, lawyers for Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a former deputy general manager at Turkey's state-controlled Halkbank, said "notions of comity" weighed against a stiff punishment at his May 7 sentencing.

The military said it came to its final conclusion after "analyzing the flight path and an operational and intelligence-based investigation of the remains".

The drone had apparently entered from Syrian territory into Israeli airspace for 90 seconds before Israel shot it down. The pilots of the aircraft ejected from it before the Syrian missiles hit, landing near Mitzpe Adi. The pilots landed inside Israel and were evacuated to Rambam hospital in Haifa.

Israel considers Iran an existential threat because of its nuclear and missile programs, its support of violent anti-Israel groups in the region and frequent calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

However, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said that one night of air strikes was not a substitute for a clear, comprehensive Syria strategy.

In Britain, Sky News reported claims there had been an "explosion in Syria near a pro-Assad base where Iranian fighters were stationed". "The American president, the French president and the British prime minister are criminals, they will gain nothing from it", he said.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had also criticized the strike, calling it "a very unsafe development".

Israel has issued several stern warnings of late about Iran's increased involvement along its border in Syria in Lebanon. The armed Iranian-backed Shi'ite movement Hezbollah, which has an extensive missile arsenal, last fought a war with Israel in 2006.

Germany, Italy and the Netherlands say they will not join any military action.

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