Home / Mid-East / Israel ‘shoots down’ Syrian fighter near Golan Heights

Israel ‘shoots down’ Syrian fighter near Golan Heights

A Syrian Su-24 fighter jet taking off

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Reuters/Russian Federation

Image caption

Israel said the jet was a Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet – a version of which is pictured here

Israel has shot down a Syrian warplane which crossed into its airspace, the Israeli military says.

Two surface-to-air missiles were fired at the Sukhoi fighter jet, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted.

According to Israeli reports, it happened over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Unconfirmed reports say that a pilot was killed.

Syrian news agency Sana said Israel had targeted one of its jets over Syrian airspace, but did not say it was hit.

The agency quoted a military source as saying the plane was conducting raids against “armed terrorist groups” near the southern Yarmouk Valley.

Syria routinely describes rebel groups as terrorists.

Israel’s Haaretz news website said residents in northern Israel saw interceptor missiles fired and heard explosions.

Flames and smoke were also later seen rising from the area of the fence between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights, AFP news agency reports.

In a statement, the IDF said it was on “high alert” following “an increase in the internal fighting in Syria” and greater activity by Syria’s air force in the region.

“The IDF monitored the advance of the fighter jet, which infiltrated about two kilometres (1.25 miles) into Israeli airspace. It was then intercepted by the Patriot missiles.”

It is reportedly the first time Israel has shot down a manned Syrian aircraft since 2014.

The incident comes just a day after Israel used its David’s Sling missile defence system – used against medium-range missiles – for the first time.

The system was activated “in response to the threat” from two Syrian surface-to-surface missiles approaching Israeli territory, an army statement said.

On Monday, the Syrian government condemned the evacuation by Israel over the weekend of the White Helmets civil defence group from a war zone in the south of the country.

Damascus described the move as a “criminal operation” by “Israel and its tools”.

Some 422 volunteers and family members were taken to Jordan via the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

It was feared that they would be persecuted by advancing government forces in southern Syria.

Media captionFootage from the Israel Defense Forces shows the evacuation from Syria to Jordan

Israel ‘shoots down’ Syrian fighter near Golan Heights}

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