According to the Israeli military, one of its F-16 fighter jet has crashed amid Syrian anti-aircraft fire after an offensive against Iranian targets in Syria.
The two pilots parachuted to safety before the crash in northern Israel. It is believed to be the first time Israel has lost a jet in the Syrian conflict.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted: “Moments ago, IAF aircraft, targeted the Syrian Aerial Defense System & Iranian targets in Syria. 12 targets, including 3 aerial defense batteries & 4 Iranian military targets, were attacked. Anti-aircraft missiles were fired towards Israel, triggering alarms in northern Israel.”
Red alert sirens sounded in areas of northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire.
Residents reported hearing a number of explosions and heavy aerial activity in the area near Israel’s borders with Jordan and Syria.
Israel was carrying out strikes after the launch of an Iranian drone into Israel. The drone was intercepted.
Syria accused Israel of “aggression”, as Israel then launched more strikes.
In a statement, the Israeli military said “a combat helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel”.
It said the drone was identified quickly and was “under surveillance until the interception”.
The drone went down on Israeli territory and was “in our possession”, IDF spokesperson Brig Gen Ronen Manelis said.
The military said that in response the IDF “targeted Iranian targets in Syria”. It said the mission deep inside Syrian territory was successfully completed.
After coming under Syrian anti-aircraft fire, the F-16’s two crew ejected and were later taken to hospital. One of them was “severely injured as a result of an emergency evacuation”, the IDF said.
It was not clear whether the F-16 jet was hit by anti-aircraft fire or went down near Harduf for other reasons.
Syrian state media quoted a military source as saying that the country’s air defenses opened fire in response to an Israeli act of “aggression” against a military base on February 10, hitting “more than one plane”.
Meanwhile, Iran, Russia and the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon – key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – dismissed as “lies” Israeli claims that an Iranian drone had entered Israeli airspace, news wires report.