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Israel denies Syria shot down warplane

September 13, 2016

The Israeli military has rejected claims that Syrian forces shot down an Israeli jet and a drone. Meanwhile, the Israeli air force bombed regime artillery positions in Golan Heights.

Syrien Detonationen nahe den Golanhöhen
Image: Reuters/Baz Ratner

The conflicting reports on the destroyed plane came as Syria entered the second day of an internationally-brokered truce.

Both sides confirmed that Israel flew a sortie against regime targets in Syria on Tuesday morning, presumably after stray shells fell into Israeli-controlled territory from across the border.

"Our air defenses blocked the attack and shot down the military aircraft in Quneitra and a drone" in the province of Damascus, Syrian army said in a statement published by the SANA news agency.

Syrian state television cited an army source as saying that Israel was trying to help an Islamist offensive.

The Israeli military quickly denied the report, saying there was "nothing true" about the regime claims.

"Overnight two surface-to-air missiles were launched from Syria after the mission to target Syrian artillery positions," military spokesman Arye Shalicar said. "At no point was the safety of (Israeli) aircraft compromised."

Mortar strike prompts retribution

Israel has mostly kept out of the complicated civil war in Syria, although it is believed to have struck targets linked to Hezbollah, which fights alongside the regime. Also, the IDF has occasionally launched bombing raids in response to projectiles hitting its territory.

Israelis noted four instances of shelling from Syria in the last nine days.

A military spokeswoman told the AFP news agency that the mortar strike on Monday was most likely not intentional, but rather spillover from "internal fighting in Syria." It caused no injuries, according to the military.

Israel captured parts of Golan Heights from Syria in the six-day war of 1967.

dj/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)