Iran Condemns Israel's Violation of Syrian Airspace

The missiles triggered Israel's emergency sirens, which may have forced the army to issue a rare communique confirming the skirmish.

From an official Israel Defense Forces statement released early March 17, we know that the Israeli Air Force targeted "several targets in Syria" and that, following the mission, "several antiaircraft missiles were launched from Syria".

Israel has said it won't allow advanced weapons to reach Hezbollah.

Israel has reportedly struck Syria multiple times in the past, often targeting weapons shipments headed for Hezbollah, the anti-Israeli group based in Lebanon.

Israeli aerial defence systems intercepted one of the missiles but the army would not say if any other missiles struck Israeli-held territory, but confirmed the safety of Israeli civilians and Israeli aircraft was "not compromised".

The Syrian Army said Israeli warplanes targeted Syrian army positions and hit a "military target" near Palmyra in a Friday morning raid, in what it described as an act of aggression that aided Islamic State.

After Arrow missile system was delivered to the Israel Air Force in 2000, Israel became the first country with the ability to protect itself against ballistic missile threats.

Israeli media are reporting that the Arrow intercepted an SA-5 surface-to-air missile, or SAM, and indeed it is logical that Syria's air defense system launched against the intruding Israeli fighters in an attempt to down the planes.

The incident - not least because the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) statement has made it "official" - represents a serious escalation in tensions between Israel and Syria.

Israel and Syria are still technically at war, though the border had remained largely quiet for decades until 2011 when the Syrian conflict broke out.

Iran-backed Hezbollah has been fighting in the Syrian war in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, and Israel has expressed concern over whether the war will result in Iran increasing its power in the country. However, Israel dismissed the reports that any of its jets were hit. None of the missiles struck the jets, but one was intercepted by a missile defense system north of Jerusalem, Haaretz reports, adding there were no Israeli casualties in the incident. A subsequent Israeli airstrike destroyed a vehicle carrying four militants, Lerner said.

  • Joey Payne