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Missiles Fired at Israeli Jets After Airstrikes Hit Syria Targets

JERUSALEM — Anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria into Israeli-controlled territory early on Friday, following a series of Israeli airstrikes inside Syria, the Israeli military said.

The military said its warplanes struck several targets in Syria and were back in Israeli-controlled airspace when several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria toward the Israeli jets.

Israeli aerial defense systems intercepted one of the missiles, the army said, but did not elaborate. It would not say whether any other missiles struck Israeli-held territory, but it said the safety of Israeli civilians and the safety of the Israeli aircraft "were not compromised."

Syria fires on Israeli jets amid growing Middle East tension 1:11

The army said the incident set off sirens in Jewish settlement communities in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

The firing of missiles from Syria toward Israeli aircraft is extremely rare, though Israeli military officials said there was a shoulder-fired missile a few months ago.

There was no immediate comment from the government in Damascus, nor its ally Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group that is believed to possess such missiles.

Israel has been largely unaffected by the Syrian civil war raging next door, suffering mostly sporadic incidents of spillover fire over the frontier that Israel has generally dismissed as tactical errors by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government forces. Israel has responded to these cases lightly, with limited reprisals on Syrian positions in response to the errant fire.

Image: Map showing Israel and Syria
A map showing Israel and Syria. Google Maps

Iran, Israel's arch-enemy, has been Assad's staunchest backer and has provided militia fighters to help him.

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

Israel is widely believed to have carried out a number of airstrikes on advanced weapons systems in Syria — including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles, as well as Hezbollah positions — but it rarely confirms them.

Hezbollah is a close ally of the Syrian government and is fighting alongside Assad's forces in Syria's civil war.

Last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss what he charged were Iran's attempts to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria.