Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that crossed into its airspace Tuesday morning, military officials said, and the entire country remains on “high alert” amid increased fighting in Syria.
“Two Patriot missiles were launched at a Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet that infiltrated about 1 mile into Israeli airspace. The IDF monitored the fighter jet, which was then intercepted by the Patriot missiles,” the Israeli Defense Forces said on Twitter early Tuesday. “Since this morning, there has been an increase in the internal fighting and the Syrian Air Force’s activity. The IDF is on high alert and will continue to operate against violation of the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement.”
The incident comes just one day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with top Russian officials to discuss Israel’s security amid the ongoing civil war in Syria. Moscow is backing Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in the conflict, and Iranian proxy forces hostile to Israel also are fighting alongside Mr. Assad’s troops.
Israel’s security was a key topic in last week’s summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin; the two men suggested they’d reached a deal on Syria that would guarantee Israel’s security, but so far no details have been released.
Meanwhile, from Israel’s perspective, its security is under threat. Syrian government forces with the aid of Russian planes have retaken key areas in the Golan Heights area from rebel groups. Iranian forces and militias also have been aiding Assad’s forces in that offensive, the Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.
The Post also said that the IDF has moved additional artillery to the area in response to the gains by Assad’s forces. On Monday, Israel used some of that artillery its David’s Sling missile interceptor system against two missiles launched from inside Syria.
This week has been just the latest escalation of violence in the region. In February, anti-aircraft fire in Syria downed an Israeli F-16 fighter jet, and the Israeli Army that same month claimed to have captured an Iranian armed stealth drone that had flown into the country’s airspace from Syrian territory.
Those incidents led Jerusalem to ramp up its three-year bombing campaign against Hezbollah positions inside Syria.