Israeli warplanes struck several targets in Syria, the IDF said early Friday, an attack that led to sirens and sounds of explosions in Israel in the middle of the night.
At approximately 3 a.m. local time, warning sirens, which warn residents of Israeli towns of incoming rockets, sounded in the Jordan Valley. At least two distinct explosions were heard as far west and south as Jerusalem.
Initial reports said the sirens and explosions were believed to be from rocket launches in either the West Bank or Jordan.
But military officials said the sirens sounded when Israeli missile defense systems detected a missile launched at the Israeli Air Force planes during their strike against unnamed targets in Syria.
Syria and Israel engaged in the most serious incident between the two countries since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war six years ago overnight on Thursday, as Israeli Air Force planes struck several targets in Syria.
Conflicting Reports Of Aircraft Shot Down
In response, the Assad regime deployed air defense systems and fired a number of missiles toward Israeli jets.
The Israeli army said that none of the missiles struck the jets, though in Syria, the military claimed Friday that one Israeli jet had been shot down and another damaged.
According to Israeli Channel 10, Israeli planes were targeted by the Syrian government forces using S-200 surface-to-air missile systems, also known as SA-5. After the statement by the Syrian Army, Israeli military reiterated that that none of its planes had been damaged.
According to Israeli Channel 10, Israeli planes were targeted by the Syrian government forces using S-200 surface-to-air missile systems, also known as SA-5.
After the statement by the Syrian Army, Israeli military reiterated that that none of its planes had been damaged.
Israel’s Arrow Defense System Incepted Missiles Aimed For Civilian Population
One of the anti-air projectiles fired by the Syrian army was intercepted by Israel’s “Arrow” missile defense system north of Jerusalem.
Israel’s ambassador to Russia has been called in by the Russian Foreign Ministry for clarifications Friday after Israel’s air force attacked in Syria overnight, a statement by Moscow said. The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed the statement.
It is relatively rare for Israeli ambassadors to be summoned for such a talk in the wake of air force action in Syria. Since Russian forces entered Syria two years ago, a number of attacks attributed to Israel have taken place, but in none of the cases was the Israeli envoy to Moscow asked to give clarifications.
The Syrian foreign ministry sent two letters to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Friday, urging to condemn Israel over the attack on Syrian city of Palmyra and violations of the Syrian airspace.
The Israeli army said the rockets fired toward Israel were not among Syria’s most advanced and the incident was the first confirmed instance of operational use of the Arrow system – meant to challenge the threat of ballistic missiles – despite being first delivered to the army in the late 1990s.
A Jordanian military source said that shrapnel had fallen within its borders as a result of Israel’s interception of the Syrian missile.
According to the Israeli army, its aircraft had already returned to Israeli airspace when Syrian launched its air-defense rockets.
Israel Targeted Weapons Intended for Hezbollah
Prevailing assessments suggested that Israel was targeting shipments of weapons intended to reach Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah later denied reports that one of ts commanders had been killed in the airstrikes.
The Syrian army said that Israel had targeted a military site near Palmyra and swore to retaliate “directly, with all means at its disposal.”
The statement from Syria accused Israeli jets of entering Syrian airspace from Lebanon and striking the country in support of ISIS.
There were no Israeli casualties in the incident, and the IDF military spokesperson’s unit confirmed Israel struck targets in Syria in an exceptionally rare statement.
There have been several reports over the past five years that Israel has targeted weapons convoys in Syria headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon, but until now Israel has not officially addressed these claims.
The Assad regime’s retaliation Thursday pointed to a decided shift in behavior toward Israel amid numerous reports on Israeli strikes.
Less than a month ago, on February 22, Lebanese reports indicated that Israeli forces had struck an arms convoy outside of Damascus in an attacked carried out from Lebanese airspace.
One month before that, on January 13, the Syrian government warned of repercussions to what it called a “flagrant” attack after the army told state media that Israeli missiles had struck a military airport west of Damascus.
Though always stopping short of confirming airstrikes in Syria until Thursday, Israeli officials have repeatedly sworn to take whatever action necessary to prevent weapons shipments to Hezbollah in Lebanon via Syrian territory.
In fall, 2016, the Israeli government reached an understanding of military cooperation with the Russian air force – also active in Syria – designed to prevent any accidental clashes.