Israel shot down a Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet Tuesday after the aircraft infiltrated Israeli airspace while flying over the Golan Heights, the country’s military announced.
The jet flew about 1.2 miles into Israeli airspace before it was hit by a pair of Patriot missiles, according to the Israel Defense Forces, Fox News reports.
Israel has used its David’s Sling missile-defense system for the first time in battle, firing at two Syrian surface-to-surface missiles Monday morning, the military said.
An initial army investigation found that the system identified the two Russian-made SS-21 missiles, calculating that they were likely to land south of Lake Kinneret. An Israeli lieutenant colonel made the decision to use the system.
It’s unclear what happened to the pilots.
“The Israeli enemy confirms its support for the armed terrorist groups and targets one of our warplanes, which was striking their groups in the area of Saida on the edge of the Yarmouk Valley in Syrian airspace,” Syrian news agency SANA quoted a military source as saying.
The incident comes during a Russia-backed Syrian offensive to retake parts of southern Syria the Bashar al-Assad government lost to rebels during the civil war.
Israel is concerned that the Syrian military will enter a buffer zone established in 1974 that borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
“Since the morning hours, there has been an increase in the internal fighting in Syria, including an increase in the activity of the Syrian Air Force,” the army said. Al Jazeera
On Tuesday, Syrian forces reached the Golan Heights frontier for the first time in seven years. The government forces reached the border fence with the U.N.’s Disengagement Observer Force.
Minutes before the reported shootdown, Syria’s state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV was broadcasting footage from the fence demarcating the U.N. buffer zone between Syrian and Israeli forces inside the Golan Heights. A U.N. observer post could be seen just on the other side of the fence.
The Sukhoi Su-30 is a twin-engine, two-seat supermaneuverable fighter aircraft developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. It is a multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.