Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Escalation Looming? Israel to Crush Syrian Air Defense if Jets Targeted Again

Escalation Looming? Israel to Crush Syrian Air Defense if Jets Targeted Again

Israeli airstrikes on Syrian targets overnight have triggered the most visible skirmish between the two neighbours since Syria's civil war began in 2011, according to media reports. Late a year ago, IDF troops operating in the disputed Golan region came under fire from militants of the ISIS affiliate Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said. The IDF reported that its "aerial defense systems intercepted one of the missiles" and stressed that "at no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or aircraft compromised".

The leader of Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, confirmed on Saturday that an Israeli airstrike hit one of his group's strategic strongholds in Syria on Thursday night. That is why every time we identify an attempt to smuggle game-changing weapons, we will act to thwart it.

"All of our aircraft returned to their bases without any threats posed by Syrian air defenses", Israeli army spokesman Avijaa Odraei told Anadolu Agency.

Syria said it shot down an Israeli war plane and struck another Friday after four of the aircraft violated Syrian airspace.

It isn't the first time that Syria has fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israel, but it was the first time that Israel officially deployed the Arrow system, Haaretz said. At least one of the missiles crossed the Israeli border, setting off air-raid sirens in Galilee before it was shot down by a missile-defence system.

Israel's Channel Two reported that the strikes had targeted an arms shipment bound for Lebanon's Shia Hezbollah group in northern Syria.

Israeli strikes have also targeted ISIS fighters inside Syria.

Israel is concerned that Iran-backed Hezbollah, with which it fought a war in 2006, is trying to obtain sophisticated weapons it could use against Israel.

Israel seized most of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981, in a move never recognised by the global community.

"Syria made a dramatic shift today as it managed to discover the movements of the Israeli warplanes", Amir said, pointing out that Damascus has broken the equation with the Zionist entity.

The Israeli military would not comment on the type of system used.

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