IDF says it bombed Syrian anti-aircraft battery that fired at Israeli jet

Syria claims Israeli retaliatory strike hit a military position in Quneitra region on Syrian Golan Heights, killing two soldiers

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

An Israeli F-16. (Hagar Amibar/Israeli Air Force)
An Israeli F-16. (Hagar Amibar/Israeli Air Force)

The Israeli military said it bombed a Syrian anti-aircraft battery on Monday night that earlier in the day had fired at one of its fighter jets during a routine mission within Israeli airspace.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that an officer and a soldier were killed in the Israeli retaliatory strike. A military vehicle was also said damaged in the attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would “not tolerate any aggression against us, and we will respond forcefully.”

According to the Israel Defense Forces, earlier in the day, an anti-aircraft shell was fired “at an Israeli fighter jet that was in the midst of a routine flight in the north of the country.”

The military said the shell landed inside Syrian territory and did not damage the Israeli plane, whose “mission was completed as planned.”

The earlier incident was not immediately reported by the IDF.

Shortly after 9 p.m., the IDF retaliated to the anti-aircraft attack, bombing the battery that fired it, the military said.

The official Syrian state mouthpiece SANA said the Israeli strike targeted a military post on the Tel al-Sha’ar hilltop, east of Khan Arnabeh, just east of the border.

“The IDF takes seriously any threat to its planes and will act to defend them,” the army said in a statement.

Last Saturday, Syria said its air defenses shot down a number of missiles fired from Israel, a day after the country made a similar claim.

SANA said the Syrian military intercepted “hostile targets coming from the direction of occupied territories.” Syrian state TV said the missiles were shot down over Quneitra and near Damascus.

The night before, Syrian state TV reported sounds of explosions near the capital, and aired footage of what it claimed were air defenses intercepting missiles fired from Israeli jets seen over Quneitra.

“Aerial defenses detected hostile targets coming from the direction of Quneitra and dealt with them,” SANA quoted a military source as saying.

A picture taken on July 26, 2018, near Ein Zivan in the Israeli Golan Heights, shows smoke rising above buildings across the border in Syria during airstrikes backing a government-led offensive in the southern province of Quneitra. (AFP/Jack Guez)

There was no response from the IDF to those reports. Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria.

Toward the start of the Syrian civil war, the Israeli military established a number of “red lines” that if violated would result in a retaliatory strike, including any attacks — intentional or otherwise — against Israel.

They also included Iranian efforts to establish a permanent military presence in Syria and attempts to transfer advanced munitions to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group.

In recent years, Israel has acknowledged conducting hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in response to these “red line” violations.

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