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July 25, 2018

Israel shoots down Syrian warplane


July 25, 2018

OCCUPIED-AL-QUDS: Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet with surface-to-air missiles on Tuesday after the plane infiltrated airspace it controls, the military said, in a rare incident that could provoke tensions.

Israel signalled that the plane’s infiltration may have been the result of internal fighting in Syria’s civil war, but stressed it would enforce the ceasefire lines between the two countries. "This is a blatant violation of the 1974 separation agreements between Israel and Syria," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

"We will not accept any intrusion or spillage into our territory, either from the ground or from the air." The plane, either a Sukhoi 22 or 24, crashed on the Syrian side of the fence in the Golan Heights and it was unclear what happened to the pilot or pilots, Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told journalists.

It was hit after it penetrated some two kilometres into Israeli-controlled airspace in the southern Golan Heights, said Conricus. A Syrian military source confirmed Israel had fired at one of its warplanes but said the fighter had been carrying out operations against jihadists over Syrian territory.

Israel "targeted one of our warplanes... in Syrian airspace", the source said, cited by state news agency SANA. The source did not say whether the plane had been hit. According to Conricus, the plane left from the T4 airbase in central Syria before heading towards the Golan.

Israel’s military monitored the plane throughout and shot it down with two Patriot missiles, Conricus said. It was the first time Israel shot down a manned Syrian fighter jet since 2014. "From our perspective, the event is behind us," Conricus said. "However we of course remain on high alert."

An AFP correspondent said smoke could be seen rising from the area of the fence between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israel’s army said there had been an increase in "internal fighting in Syria" from early on Tuesday.

"We issued warnings and messages through different channels in various languages, numerous times over the day, in order to avoid any miscalculations, misunderstandings or any violations of Israeli airspace," Conricus said.

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