Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Israel 'aware' it was downing Syrian, not Russian military plane - army spokesman

Steven Clarke | 24 July, 2018, 18:39

It's the first downing of a Syrian jet since a U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet shot one down over Syria in June 2017 after it fired on U.S. -backed Syrian forces. "It was then intercepted by the Patriot missiles".

Israel has become increasingly concerned about moves by Syrian forces and its allies, including Iran, near the occupied Golan.

The plane crossed two kilometers (1.2 miles) into Israeli airspace before Israel's military shot it down, the military said.

Syrian forces have been battling rebels and IS militants at the frontier with Israel for weeks in a campaign to restore President Bashar Assad's rule over southwestern Syria.

On Tuesday, Syrian forces reached the Golan Heights frontier for the first time in seven years. It was the second time during the Syrian civil war that Israel has shot down a Syrian warplane, the Ynet website said.

"It was shot down and it crashed.most likely in the southern part of the Syrian Golan Heights", Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said.

Israel military says Syrian plane shot down after crossing Golan Heights line
Throughout the day, Reuters witnesses on the Golan Heights heard explosions and saw plumes of smoke rising from Syrian territory. Syrian state media said Israel targeted the warplane, which it said was hit while conducting raids in Syrian airspace.

Syria's official SANA news agency, citing an unidentified military source, said Israel targeted the aircraft inside Syrian airspace. In 1981, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed a law on the Golan Heights, which unilaterally proclaimed Israel's sovereignty over that territory.

Smoke can be seen following an explosion at the Syrian side of the Israeli Syrian border as it is seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, July 23. The two pilots ejected and landed in Syrian territory.

While Israel and the United States have been pressuring Russian Federation to limit Iranian influence in Syria, Moscow contends that it has little influence on the tight relationship between Syria and Iran, and it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to fully withdraw from the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Jerusalem yesterday to discuss the Syrian conflict.

An Israeli military statement appeared to acknowledge that its mission was related to the civil war next door.

An IDF spokesperson on Twitter said it launched the missiles due to "an increase in the internal fighting" in Syria.

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