Israel Says Downed Syrian Jet Violated Its Airspace

Israel says a Syrian fighter jet flew a half mile into its airspace to fight rebels near the Golan Heights border and defense forces shot it down.
Posted at 10:29 AM, Sep 23, 2014

Israel says when a Syrian jet crossed over into its airspace Tuesday morning, it opened fire with a Patriot missile like this one — downing the plane.

The jet was shot down over the relatively small and disputed border area of Golan Heights in northeast Israel, and Israel Defense Forces say the Syrian jet was likely targeting rebels near the border.

NICK SCHIFRIN, AL JAZEERA CORRESPONDENT: "The jet came in, like I said, about 2,500 feet — about half a mile — into Israel. Almost immediately, a Patriot missile fired. ... The pilot and the co-pilot were able to evacuate. They actually got back to Syria."

While media outlets don't seem to agree on the last time Israel shot down a Syrian warplane, they agreed it's the first time in decades we've seen such aggression.

Golan Heights is a plateau with very few areas to cross into Israel, and Al-Qaeda-linked rebels have fought the Syrian regime and controlled large areas for much of the conflict there. (Video via CNN)

The U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on the other side of the country happened only hours before the Syrian jet was shot down fighting rebels. That has many speculating President Bashar al-Assad is taking full advantage of the strikes. (Video via Step Agency News)

TOM RAYNER, SKY NEWS CORRESPONDENT: "While these airstrikes are being carried out by this coalition up in the northwest of Syria — in Raqqa and in Deir ez-Zor — the Syrian regime are taking the opportunity to do some of its own bombing."

Just as Assad likely doesn't want another enemy to fight in Israel, the Israelis appear unwilling as ever to get involved in the bloody civil war to its northeast and issued statements trying to make that clear.

The Jerusalem Post quoted an Israeli Air Force officer as saying: "We don't have any interest in supporting the rebels. This is a border; any aircraft that crosses it will be shot down. Just as an intruder on the surface will be intercepted."

This video includes images from Getty Images.