Antonio Guterres
Antonio GuterresReuters

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called for an immediate de-escalation in Syria after Israel carried out airstrikes in the country in retaliation for an Iranian drone that infiltrated its territory from Syria.

Guterres is "following closely the alarming military escalation throughout Syria and the dangerous spillover across its borders," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

“The latest events come as the Syrian people suffer through one of the most violent periods in nearly seven years of conflict. Over 1,000 civilian casualties from airstrikes were reported in the first week of February alone,” wrote Dujarric.

“The Secretary-General stresses once again that all concerned in Syria and the region have a responsibility and must abide by international law and relevant Security Council resolutions. He calls on all to work for an immediate and unconditional de-escalation of violence and exercise restraint.”

Guterres “further calls on the parties to move swiftly toward a political solution, in line with Security Council Resolution 2254, which is the only way to end the violence and the terrible suffering of the Syrian people,” the statement concluded.

Just prior to 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning, an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace from Syria, remaining in Israel some 90 seconds before the Israel Air Force (IAF) shot it down.

In response to the provocation, Israel attacked the drone's command center. During the IAF operation, Syrian surface-to-air missiles downed an Israeli F-16I fighter jet. Both pilots suffered injuries, and ejected after reaching Israeli territory.

Following the serious incident, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, "I have been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria.”

"Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel. This morning Iran brazenly violated Israel’s sovereignty. They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel. And this demonstrates that our warnings were 100% correct,” he added.

"Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today’s aggression. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security."

"Israel wants peace but we will continue to defend ourselves with determination against any attack on us and against any attempt by Iran to entrench itself militarily in Syria or anywhere else," concluded Netanyahu.