Syrian air defense forces shot down an Israeli war plane and four missiles, Russia’s RIA news agency said on Thursday citing a Syrian security source. Also regarding this latest development, Syria’s state TV says the country’s air defenses have confronted an aerial “aggression” over the country’s south shooting down several targets. The attack was the first since Russia announced that it has given Syria the S-300 air defense system.
“Our air defense forces shot down an Israeli war plane and four missiles before they reached the targets”, the source said, according to RIA. The source said all the missiles targeting the town of Kiswah were struck.
A Syrian security source reported that Syrian air defences have downed an Israeli military plane as well as four missiles over the country’s al-Kiswah area. The downed missiles have failed to reach their targets, the source added.
Earlier, Syrian Arab News Agency reported citing a military source that Syria’s air defence forces have intercepted several “hostile targets” over al-Kiswah and downed them.
The IDF spokesperson’s Unit confirmed that Israel’s air defense system identified a one Syrian surface-to-air missile projectile fell in open territory in the Golan Heights after the Syrian regime said it had downed “hostile targets” over the southern part of the country on Thursday night.
While IDF troops are scanning the area for the remnants, it is still unclear if it fell on the Syrian or Israeli side of the Golan Heights.
According to local reports the downed targets were Israeli missiles which were targeting positions of Iranian proxy militias in southern Syria.
The area where the incident is said to have occurred is where Hezbollah, a group backed by Iran, has its communications and logistics hub for southern Syria near the Israeli border, according to two senior regional intelligence sources.
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are red-lines for the Jewish State.
While Russia has recently provided the S-300 advanced anti-aircraft missile batteries to the Syrian regime, Israel has said that it will continue to operate in the war-torn country as long as Iran remains.
Russia delivered the launcher, radar and command and control vehicle of the advanced air-to-surface missile system to Syria in early October as a response to the downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane by Syrian air defenses during an Israeli airstrike on Iranian targets the previous month.
The system was deployed to Masyaf in northwestern Syria and is not believed to be operational yet.
Moscow said it would also impose electronic countermeasures over Syria’s coastline to suppress satellite navigation, onboard radar systems and communications of warplanes attacking targets on Syrian territory.
Israeli strikes on Syria “have been cut almost to zero” since a Russian plane was shot down near Latakia two months ago, a former head of Military Intelligence said earlier Thursday.
Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, interviewed on Radio 103, said Iran was “changing tactics” and has been reducing its presence in Syria in favor of Iraq and Lebanon.
“Apart from the Russians’ anger with us, I assume they also passed stern messages to the Iranians,” he said. “Russia’s strategy is to stabilize Syria, and Iran was disrupting that by developing its precision missile facilities.”
Though Israel routinely neither confirms or denies its involvement in Syria, the Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz revealed in September that “that in the last two years Israel has taken military action more than 200 times within Syria itself,” mostly against targets allegedly associated with Israel’s archrival Iran and the militias it sponsors. Israeli has argued these forces threaten its own national security.
Damascus and Tehran have threatened a military response to any more Israeli strikes in Syria, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have vowed to continue covert missions in Syria. Late last month, Reuters cited a senior Israeli official as saying that Israel has “attacked in Syria, including after the downing of the Russian plane.”
While U.S. officials have expressed concern over the installation of the S-300, Israeli Environmental Protection Minister and Russia-Israel Intergovernmental Commission co-chair Zeev Elkin warned that “practical actions” would “undoubtedly be taken” at these sites should Israeli aircraft be targeted and hoped that “there will be no Russian specialists” there.
The S-300 systems were delivered to Syria last month.
Moscow blamed Israel for the incident and supplied Damascus with the advanced S-300 air defense system — something it had previously refrained from doing following requests from Jerusalem.