Israel downed a Syrian government fighter jet that had penetrated Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights early this morning.
“This morning, a Syrian aircraft was identified while attempting to infiltrate Israeli airspace in the Golan Heights. The Israel Air Force retaliated by firing a Patriot anti-aircraft missile. The Syrian plane was successfully hit,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said. “This is a continuation of the growing tension this border has experienced in recent months.”
According to IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, the aircraft shot down was a Russian-made Sukhoi-24 and that the pilot and co-pilot both ejected into Syria. Lerner added that the fighter jet penetrated roughly half a mile into Israeli airspace.
A video posted on YouTube, likely by rebels on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, purportedly shows shoot down of the aircraft.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based human rights group, said that the Syrian fighter jet was targeting rebel positions near Syrian-Israeli border town of Quneitra. Rebels, backed by the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front terror group, took control of the border crossing last month from the Syrian government and U.N. peacekeepers.
The downing of the Syrian aircraft came amid an intense night over the skies of Syria, as the United States and several Arab allies launched airstrikes on Islamic State targets on the terror group’s strongholds in northern and eastern Syria. The U.S. also separately targeted an al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group known as “Khorasan” near Aleppo.