The Israeli Air Force shot down a Syrian fighter jet that traveled two kilometers into Israeli airspace on Tuesday afternoon, the military said.
“Two Patriot missiles were fired at a Syrian Sukhoi-model fighter jet,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
The IDF said the aircraft was monitored as it approached the border.
“It penetrated two kilometers into Israeli airspace and was shot down,” the army said.
The military would not comment on how the Syrian plane was able to penetrate two kilometers into Israeli airspace before being shot down. It was likely to ensure that the plane was not a Russian aircraft.
According to Sky News Arabia, the plane crashed inside southwest Syria, in the Yarmouk Basin, an area still under the control of the Islamic State terrorist group. It was not immediately clear if the pilots ejected before the fighter jet was shot down or what their condition was.
The Syrian military did not immediately confirm that one of its aircrafts had been shot down.
The military said it had noticed increased Syrian air force activity in the area since the morning.
The IDF stressed that it will continue to enforce the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement, which requires Syria to abide by a demilitarized zone between the two countries
This was the first time that Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet since 2014, when another Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jet entered Israeli airspace and was targeted with a Patriot missile.
“Israel has a very clear policy: No plane, and certainly not a Syrian plane, is allowed to enter our airspace” without the appropriate authorization, Israel’s former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told Army Radio on Tuesday.
“Any plane identified as an enemy plane is shot down,” he said.
In February of this year, the Syrian military shot down an Israeli F-16 fighter jet as it was taking part in a bombing raid against an Iranian-linked airfield in central Syria after an Iranian drone penetrated Israeli airspace, according to the IDF. The F-16’s pilot and navigator were injured as they bailed out of the aircraft.
The breach of Israeli airspace and the interception set off incoming rocket alert sirens throughout northeastern Israel, sending thousands of residents rushing to bomb shelters for the second day in a row.
Residents of northern Israel reported seeing white trails in the sky.
The Safed municipality told residents that air defense systems in the area had fired interceptor missiles and said there were no special safety instructions in light of the situation.
The alarms could be heard in the Golan Heights and Jordan Valley regions, the army said.
The sirens came a day after Israel launched two David’s Sling interceptor missiles at a pair of Syrian surface-to-surface missiles carrying approximately a half ton of explosives each that appeared to be heading toward Israel, but ultimately landed inside Syria.
The military’s air defense systems that detect and track incoming missiles and rockets are less accurate immediately after a projectile is launched, as they have less information on its trajectory. As the missile or rocket flies, the systems can better predict where it is likely to land.
Monday’s incident, which ultimately turned out to have been a false alarm, was the first known operational use of the David’s Sling system, which was declared operational last year.
The David’s Sling makes up the middle tier of Israel’s multi-layered anti-missile defense network.
In recent weeks, sirens in northern Israel have been triggered by the military shooting down unmanned aerial vehicles entering Israeli airspace from Syria.
On July 13, the Israeli military used an anti-aircraft Patriot missile to shoot down a Syrian army drone that was flying over the demilitarized zone separating Israel from Syria. Two days earlier, a Syrian military unmanned aerial vehicle penetrated some 10 kilometers (six miles) into Israeli territory before it too was shot down by a Patriot missile. The IDF said it had allowed the drone to fly so deeply into Israeli territory as it was not immediately clear if it belonged to the Russian military.