Israel denies Syrians shot down military jet

It isn't the first time that Syria has fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israel, but it was the first time that Israel officially deployed the Arrow system, Haaretz said.

In a rare confirmation, the Israeli army said in a statement that "a number" of its warplanes had struck positions inside Syrian territory.

Netanyahu's statement came after Israeli warplanes struck several targets within Syria, and Syria fired missiles back in retaliation. Syria claims their missiles downed one Israeli jet and hit another, which Israel rejected as "absolutely untrue".

Is this response from Syria justified, or did Israel have good reason for the airstrikes in the first place?

Overnight, March 17, IAF aircrafts [sic] targeted many targets in Syria.

It's a signal perhaps to all concerned that if weapons supplies to Hezbollah continue, then Israel is ready to escalate its air campaign.

"The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation", Liberman said on Israel Radio.

Iran is backing regime leader Bashar al Assad in the Syrian war and has provided militia to support his forces.

The Israeli army denied the regime's claims, saying none of its jets were hit.

However, Israel dismissed the reports that any of its jets were hit. When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to the Hezbollah, and we have the intelligence and the operational capability, we act to prevent that.

Also on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged Israeli air strikes in Syria, making a "rare statement on the matter", according to Israeli media.

Syria launched antiaircraft missiles Friday at Israeli jets returning home from a bombing run over central Syria, marking a serious escalation between the two Middle East foes.

There has been sporadic cross-border fire between the two countries since the start of the Syrian war in 2011. However, Israel's Arrow defence system is created to intercept long-range ballistic missiles high in the stratosphere, so it remained unclear why the system would have been used in this particular incident.

The group said it was an Israeli drone that had carried out the strike.

  • Jon Douglas