The Israeli military said it fired two Patriot missiles at the Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet that strayed about a mile into Israel. There has been an increase in military activity on Israel’s northern border in recent days as the Syrian regime battles to retake remaining rebel-held areas in the south.
The Israeli military said it monitored the advance of the Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet and shot it down with a pair of Patriot missiles after it penetrated Israeli airspace by about 1.2 miles. It was not immediately clear where the plane crashed and no details were given as to the fate of the pilots.
“Since this morning, there has been an increase in the internal fighting in Syria and the Syrian Air Force’s activity,” the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement.
The IDF also said that it would “continue to operate against” any breach of a 1974 U.N. armistice deal that established buffer zones on the Golan. Russian-backed Syrian forces have been battling rebels and Islamic State militants at the frontier with Israel in recent weeks.
The incident comes hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s met with Kremlin officials.
This is the second time Israel shot down a Russian-made Syrian jet. Four years ago, a Sukhoi-24 was shot down with Patriot missiles after entering Israeli airspace. The two Syrian pilots ejected from their aircraft and landed in Syrian territory.
Israel’s military said there had been an increase in internal fighting in Syria since the morning hours, including intensified activity by the Syrian Air Force.
Minutes before the reported interception, Syria’s state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV broadcasted footage from the fence demarcating the U.N. buffer zone between Syrian and Israeli forces inside the Golan Heights. A U.N. observer post could be seen just on the other side of the fence.