In its first known military engagement with Iran, Israel responded to an Iranian drone incursion into its territory early Saturday by bombing the launch site in Syria, according to Israeli military officials.

Returning from that mission, an Israeli F-16 fighter jet was downed over Israeli territory by a barrage of Syrian anti-aircraft missiles.

That prompted Israel to respond with what the army called "a large-scale operation" targeting 12 Syrian and Iranian military sites.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long warned of the danger of Iran's growing military presence only yards away from Israel's northern border.

The chain of events Saturday threatens to escalate into active combat between Syrian government forces and Israel, which has remained an outsider in the 7-year-old Syrian civil war.

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