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Israel Shoots Down Syrian Warplane After It Enters Israeli Airspace

Two patriot missiles were fired at a Russian-built Syrian Sukhoi fighter plane that invaded Israeli airspace on Tuesday afternoon, as Syrian government forces reached the Golan Heights for the first time in seven years.

Sirens sounded in northern Israeli areas including the Golan Heights, Jordan Valley and the Galil shortly after 1:30PM Tuesday, 12 Menachem Av. The IDF Spokesman Unit later issued a message to the media, confirming the Syrian fighter plane infiltrated Israeli airspace, and two patriot missiles were fired at it when it was about two kilometers into Israel territory, downing the fighter craft.

The IDF message adds, “Since the morning hours, there has been an escalation in the nature of the internal fighting in Syria, as well as increasing Syrian Air Force activity. The IDF is maintaining alert status and is prepared, and will continue to act against breaches of the 1974 disengagement agreements”.

According to the IDF, the Syrian fighter was a Sukhoi 22 or Sukhoi 24. Military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the plane departed from the Syrian T4 air base and flew toward Israel at “relatively high speed” before breaching the country’s airspace. He said it was unknown if the plane deliberately crossed into Israel nor what happened to its pilot. The plane crashed in the southern part of the Syrian Golan Heights, he said.

A report from the official Syrian state news agency SANA confirms the plane was downed by Israel.

This marks the second time a Syrian plane was shot down by Israel, with the last occurrence taking place in September 2014, when patriot missile was fired, downing the jet in the Golan Heights.

Tensions between Israel and Syria continue to run high, as Israel carefully monitors the ongoing civil war in that country as well as troop movements along its border.

On Monday, the Israeli David’s Sling anti-missile system was used for the first time, in response to rockets from Syria believed to be heading for Israeli territory.

Syrian forces have been battling rebels and ISIS fighters at the frontier with Israel in recent weeks.

Tuesday marked the first time government forces reached the border fence with the U.N.’s Disengagement Observer Force at the edge of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Minutes before the reported shootdown, Syria’s state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV was broadcasting footage from the fence demarcating the U.N. buffer zone between Syrian and Israeli forces inside the Golan Heights. A U.N. observer post could be seen just on the other side of the fence.

The camera showed an Israeli post 400 meters (440 yards) away.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967. The U.N. deployed a peacekeeping force between the two sides in 1974.

It is the first time government forces have taken up positions along the frontier since an uprising against President Bashar Assad swept through the country in 2011. ISIS later seized territory from rebels along the frontier region.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem / AP)

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