The Israeli military shot down a Syrian aircraft Tuesday that penetrated Israeli airspace, according to a statement from the Israeli Defense Force.
Sirens rang out as a Syrian Sukhoi-model fighter jet reportedly crossed into Israeli airspace in violation of the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement, which requires that Syria respect the demilitarized zone between the two countries, The Times of Israel reported. The Israeli military fired two Patriot missiles, downing the fighter jet.
The Israeli military is unsure if the aircraft was a Su-22 or Su-24. Both aircraft are Russian made planes used by the Syrian Air Force.
The aircraft, which took off from Syria’s T4 Airbase in Homs, apparently crashed in Syria. It is unclear if the pilot ejected safely, but there was no sign of a parachute. Syria acknowledges that Israel shot down its fighter, but it rejects accusations that the aircraft entered Israeli airspace, according to the Jerusalem Post. Syria argues that the fighter was engaged in the bombing of Islamic State units near the Yarmouk Basin in southwestern Syria.
Syrian state media said Israel attacked “one of our war planes, which are leveling [terrorist] encampments in the Saida region on the outskirts of the Yarmouk Basin, in Syrian airspace.” The Syrians accused Israel of supporting terrorism.
Tuesday’s incident marked the first time Israel has shot down a Syrian fighter jet since 2014, and another confrontation in an area where tensions are already running high.
In February, an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace, prompting Israel to shoot down the drone and then launch an airstrike on the launch site in Syria. Syrian air defenses managed to down one of the F-16 fighter jets involved in the airstrike, pushing the Israeli military to respond with a “large-scale operation” against a dozen Syrian and Iranian military sites. (RELATED: Israel Launches Massive Airstrikes Against Iranian, Syrian Military Sites)
The conflict was reportedly the first time Israel had directly targeted the Iranian military and the first time Syria and Israel had engaged one another in combat since the 1980s. And, the downing of the F-16 was the first Israeli military aircraft loss in decades, according to retired Gen. Amos Yadlin.
Similar incidents have occurred repeatedly since then.
Israel’s David Sling interceptor system fired on two SS-21 Tochka tactical ballistic missiles launched from Syria Monday. The system later determined that both missiles would not reach Israeli territory, the interceptors were deactivated, with one self-destructing and the other going down in Syria.
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