Israel Shoots Down Syrian Jet Over Golan Heights

Israel Shoots Down Syrian Jet Over Golan HeightsIsrael Shoots Down Syrian Jet Over Golan Heights

Israel’s military said it shot down a Syrian warplane over the Golan Heights on Tuesday, in the first such incident in three decades.

Israeli military sources said the plane apparently crossed by accident into Israeli-controlled airspace over the Golan Heights - where fighting from Syria’s conflict has spilled over occasionally - and was not on a mission to attack Israeli targets.

A minute and 20 seconds after the decision was taken, the dual seat Sukhoi-24 was struck by a Patriot surface-to-air missile, and the pilot and navigator managed to parachute out of the aircraft, according to the Jerusalem Post.

When the missile was fired, the plane was still flying into Israel, but when it struck, the jet had turned around and was flying back into Syria. The air crew members parachuted into Syrian territory. The aircraft was flying at between 10,000 to 14,000 feet, the source said.

Israel Radio said the warplane was apparently carrying out a mission against militants battling the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Israel’s military said it shot down a Syrian drone over the Golan Heights on Aug. 31.

Israel last downed a manned Syrian aircraft in 1985, when Israeli fighters on a surveillance mission over Lebanon destroyed two Syrian MiG-23s that approached them.

 ‘Act of Aggression’

Syria confirmed that Israel had shot down one of its warplanes, describing the incident as an “act of aggression.”

Syrian state TV quoted a military source saying the downing of the plane, which coincided with US-led air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria(ISIL), came “in the framework of [Israel’s] support for the terrorist [ISIL] and the Nusra Front”.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers of the Golan in 1967, then annexed it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.

About 510 square kilometers of the Golan remain on the Syrian side of the ceasefire line, with UN forces overseeing a buffer zone stretching some 70km from Lebanon in the north to Jordan in the south.