A few hours after the situation along Israel’s border with Syria calmed down, a senior Israeli Air Force official stated that Damascus’ aerial defense system was severely damaged by the Israeli attacks.

Watch: Remains of the Israeli F-16

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Senior Israeli Air Force official Tomer Bar stated on Saturday that the Iranian drone that was downed early this morning was in Israel’s airspace for a minute and a half before it was hit. Bar also explained that Israel launched the large-scale operation near Damascus against Iranian and Syrian targets after Syria had the “audacity” to fire missiles at an Israeli F-16.

According to Bar, the Israeli operation severely damaged the Syrian Air Force’s defense system. He stated that aside from Syrian targets, the Israeli Air Force also struck Iranian communication systems.

Israeli soldiers near the scene of the F-16 crash

Israeli soldiers near the scene of the F-16 crash Photo Credit: Flash 90

Regarding the Israeli F-16 that went down in Israeli territory, he said that “the pilots had just attacked the control vehicle that operated the Iranian drone.” He added that it is still unclear whether the F-16 was hit by Syrian fire before it crashed. “We haven’t had a plane hit by enemy fire since 1983,” he stressed.

The pilots successfully ejected from the aircraft before it crashed and exploded near Kibbutz Harduf in the Jezreel Valley Regional Council. “The pilots didn’t report that they had been hit,” Bar added. “They carried out the abandonment protocol. Their rescue was fast and we are still investigating what happened there.”

Haifa’s Rambam Hospital stated on Saturday afternoon that the pilot who was slightly injured is expected to be released tomorrow. The pilot who was critically injured remains in stable condition. He underwent emergency surgery when he arrived at the medical center. His condition is no longer considered life-threatening.