Syria launched surface-to-air missiles at Israeli warplanes earlier today, and have now claimed to have shot one down and damaged another.
The exchange was confirmed by both Israel and Syria, but Israel so far denies it has a downed aircraft. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said that after attacking Hezbollah targets inside Syria, their aircraft were over Israeli air space when they were engaged by Syrian anti-aircraft defenses.
The IDF said their own missiles, fired from what is called the Arrow missile defense system, intercepted the Syrian missiles. They said none of their aircraft were hit by Syrian missiles.
The missile defense shield is part of a series of high-tech defensive emplacements Israel has deployed to counter the threat of thousands of short, medium, and long-range missiles that have been used by a number of her enemies to kill Israeli civilians.
The Syrian government issued a statement saying: “This blatant Israeli act of aggression came as part of the Zionist enemy’s persistence with supporting ISIS terrorist gangs and in a desperate attempt to raise their deteriorating morale and divert attention away from the victories which Syrian Arab Army is making in the face of the terrorist organizations.”
This is not the first time Israel has engaged targets inside Syria. Since the start of the Syrian Civil War, hundreds of Hezbollah fighters have traveled into Syria to fight largely in support of the Assad regime against Sunni Arab opposition forces. Israeli jets have bombed and attacked Hezbollah fighters in the past, as well as responded to errant fire from Syrian government forces that have strayed into Israel.
Israel and Syria have technically been in a state of war since 1948, when Israel was declared an independent state. They have never had formal diplomatic relations.
Civilians in Israel and Jordan reported hearing loud explosions and falling debris early this morning.
Image courtesy of Al-Jazeera