Israel has shot down a Syrian warplane flying over its airspace over southern Golan, according to its military. The Israel Defense Forces tweeted that two Patriot missiles were fired at the Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet, which it said was one mile inside Israeli airspace.
Unconfirmed reports say that a pilot was killed.
Syrian news agency SANA said Israel had targeted one of its jets over its 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 Yarmouk Valley.
Haaretz news website reports residents in north Israel saw interceptor missiles fired and heard explosions.
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.
It is reportedly the first time Israel has shot down a manned Syrian aircraft since 2014.
Trails of smoke seen over northern Israel after Patriot missiles were launched at the incoming Syria
The shooting follows the day after Israel used its David’s Sling missile defence system for the first time.
Israel’s air defenses fired two Patriot missiles at the plane. It was not immediately clear where the plane crashed, and no details were given as to the fate of the pilots.
The Israeli military said that the Syrian plane took off from the T4 airbase near Hama, which was the target of at least two Israeli airstrikes in the past. The base was used by Iranian forces and housed a command center for Iran’s drone operations in Syria.
Earlier, sirens went off in Israeli communities across the Golan Heights, near the Syria border. Residents in northern Israel reported seeing interceptor missiles being fired from the Safed area and reported hearing explosions.
This is the second time the Israel Air Force has brought down a Russian-made Syrian jet since 1985. The other time was in 2014, when it shot down a Sukhoi-24 that entered Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights. At the time, the plane was intercepted by a Patriot missile some 800 meters west of the Israel-Syria border. The decision to intercept that plane was taken within 80 seconds, and by the time the interceptor missile hit the jet, it was already on its way back to Syrian airspace. The two pilots ejected and landed in Syrian territory.
More at haaretz.com