Sky News Reports / (CNN, as well): Israel says it has shot down a Syrian fighter jet over its airspace – the first such incident in more than 30 years.
The aircraft was hit by a Patriot missile while trying to “infiltrate” the Quneitra area of the Golan Heights, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said. An Israeli defence source identified the jet as a Russian-built Sukhoi Su-24 fighter plane. Previously it was reported to have been a MiG-21 aircraft.
It flew 800 metres into Israeli airspace and tried to return to Syria after the Patriot missile was fired, he said. The crew managed to abandon the plane in time and landed in Syrian territory, he added.
The Golan area, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, has seen clashes between the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s forces in recent weeks. Syrian state TV confirmed Israel had shot down one of its planes, and described it as an act of aggression.
It quoted a military source saying the attack came “in the framework of (Israel’s) support for the terrorist (Islamic State) and the Nusra Front”. Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said the aircraft had crossed into Israel in a “threatening way” and vowed to retaliate to any similar incidents in the future. “We will not allow (any) element, whether it is a terror group or a state, to threaten our security and breach our sovereignty,” he said. “We are committed first and foremost to ensure the security of the Israel’s citizens and we will use all means at our disposal to do so.”
It came hours after the US and five Arab countries began airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria for the first time.
The raids were carried out using fighter jets, bombers, drones, and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from US ships in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar were involved in the raids, a US official said, although their exact roles were unclear.