Tel Aviv, Damascus, London — An Israeli Defense Forces Spokesman said that Israeli jets bombed a Syrian anti-aircraft battery east of Damascus after it fired an anti-aircraft missile at the Israeli aircraft on a spy mission overflying Lebanon.
Other Israeli sources confirmed notifying the Russian army, a major backer supporting the Assad regime in Damascus, about the airstrike “in real-time mode”.
No Israeli planes were hit by the missile fired by the Syrians, Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said. The counter-strike took place two hours later and “incapacitated” the anti-aircraft unit located 50 km east of Damascus, he said.
“We know according to our intelligence it was a battery controlled by the Syrian regime and we hold the Syrian regime responsible for the fire,” Conricus said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later issued a statement saying Israel would not hesitate to defend itself.
“Today there was an attempt to harm our aircraft — this is unacceptable to us.
The air force acted quickly and accurately to destroy what needed to be destroyed,” Reuters cited Netanyahu as saying.
“Our policy is clear. Whoever tries to harm us, we will strike at him. We will continue to act in the region as is required in order to defend Israel.”
But the Syrian army said it struck an Israeli warplane that had breached its air space at the Syria-Lebanon border.
“The Israeli enemy this morning violated our air space… Our air defense mediums confronted it, hit one of its planes directly and forced it to flee,” the Syrian military statement said.
According to military sources, the Syrian anti-aircraft missile was fired at the Israeli warplane at about 10:00 am on Monday.
Later on, Israeli officials reported that the Israeli aircraft responded with four air-to-surface missiles demolishing the Syrian missile battery.