Israel shoots down Syrian fighter jet near Golan Heights
On Tuesday July 24th, Israeli Security Forces (ISF) intercepted a Syrian fighter jet that allegedly penetrated two kilometers deep inside Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights while carrying out air raids targeting militant positions in southwestern Syria. After two Patriot missiles were fired, reports indicated that the aircraft crashed inside militant-held positions in South Syria and that at least one out of two pilots supposedly died as a result. Later on, ISIS-affiliated militants released images of the downed plane on social media.
Syrian state media denied all claims made by Israeli authorities and insisted that the fighter jet was operating in Syrian airspace in support of the Regime’s advance on the remaining militant positions in South Syria without presenting any threat to Israel. Nevertheless, Israel has defended its action by maintaining that it will not accept any violation of the 1974 agreement on the ‘Separation of Forces’, especially as the Syrian conflict has been drawing close to Israeli controlled areas.
This is the second time since the South Lebanon conflict of 1985 that ISF shoots down a Syrian fighter jet over the Golan Heights. On Tuesday September 23rd, 2014, ISF intercepted a Syrian warplane after it had crossed 800 meters within Israeli airspace but the two pilots managed to use their ejectable seats. However, tensions between Israel, Syria, and Iran have been on the rise and risks escalating into a conflict despite a mediation by the Russian government.
Also, on Monday July 23rd, ISF aerial defense systems intercepted two Syrian missiles that were headed towards Israeli controlled areas due to a spillover from infighting between Regime forces and militants. A day before, ISF carried out a number of airstrikes targeting military installations inside Syrian territory which has become a regular scene. As such, tensions in the Golan Heights seem to be on the increase especially since May 10th when Iranian forces and ISF exchanged missile fire.