The IDF confirmed Monday that a Syrian anti-aircraft position has fired at one of its fighter jets during a routine mission within Israeli airspace. The strike occurred near Quneitra in southern Syria, close to the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.
In response, the Israeli military bombed the launcher that fired at the aircraft. According to Syrian state media, an officer and a soldier were killed in the Israeli retaliatory strike.
The IDF described the attack as “a violation of Israeli sovereignty.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the incident, saying: “Our policy is clear: We will not tolerate any aggression toward us and we will respond forcefully.”
Israeli intelligence recently discovered that Syria stationed two military brigades on the Golan Heights. The government in Jerusalem fears that allies of the Syrian regime, Iran and Hezbollah, may also try to maintain a presence there and initiate incidents which would lead to a confrontation in the area.
In February 2018, Israel intercepted an Iranian drone that had penetrated Israeli airspace, which had been launched from the T-4 or Tiyas airbase, where Iran is believed to maintain a presence. Israel carried out airstrikes against that airbase in February and April. The IDF later announced that the drone that had infiltrated in February had been armed with explosives.
In May, Israeli airstrikes destroyed nearly all of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria, following the firing of 20 rockets toward Israel by Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) troops located on the Syrian Golan Heights.
Israel’s leadership has consistently said that it has “red lines” in Syria, including that it will not allow the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group Hezbollah to obtain game-changing weapons. In September 2018, the IDF confirmed that it had carried out over 200 airstrikes into Syria over the previous 18 months in its effort to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military foothold in the country.
[Photo: Staff Sgt. Paul Labbe / DOD]