Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Following Syria Escalation: Israel Has ‘Absolute Right to Defend Itself’

FILE - In this Oct. 30, 2017, file photo, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on "The Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Administration Perspective" on Capitol Hill in Washington. For only the second time since 9/11, America’s defense secretary didn’t visit …
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The Times of Israel reports: The American defense secretary gave his full-throated backing on Sunday to Israel’s actions in the aerial exchange of fire over the weekend with Syrian and Iranian forces in Syria. “Israel has an absolute right to defend itself, and I think that’s what happened yesterday,” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters as he boarded a plane to Europe on Sunday.

Mattis’s comments come after an Iranian drone infiltrated Israel’s airspace on Saturday, then was shot down by Israel, which launched a widespread retaliatory offensive in Syria. The IDF said it hit four Iranian positions and eight Syrian sites, causing significant damage.

Israel also said it destroyed the Syrian military’s main command and control bunker in its most devastating assault there in decades. A number of anti-aircraft batteries were also targeted after an Israeli F-16 crashed, apparently after being shot down by Syrian-fired Russian-made anti-aircraft fire.

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