The Israeli military shot down a Syrian fighter jet after it entered Israeli airspace on Tuesday afternoon, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said, raising fears of further military escalation in the region.
The Russian-made Sukhoi jet entered two kilometers into Israeli airspace when two Patriot missiles were launched to intercept the aircraft, the IDF said. The missiles hit the jet once it had crossed back into Syrian airspace, the IDF said, adding that the military did not know what happened to the pilot of the aircraft.
Syria said its jet was conducting an operation against “terrorist groups” when it was hit by Israeli fire, according to a state media report.
“The Israeli enemy targeted one of our warplanes while conducting air raids against these groups in the area of Saida on the outskirts of al-Yarmouk Basin in the Syrian airspace,” a Syrian state TV banner said, quoting a military source.
Yarmouk basin is one of the last remaining areas in southern Syria not yet under government control. Syrian forces, backed by the Russian military, have been carrying out an extensive campaign in the area in recent days, attempting to wrest control from an ISIS affiliate that is clinging on to a small pocket of territory.