Israeli fighter jets struck several targets in Syria early Friday, prompting retaliatory anti-aircraft missile launches, in the most serious incident between the two countries since the Syrian civil war began six years ago.
Syrian forces said they had downed an Israeli plane and hit another as they were carrying out pre-dawn strikes near the famed desert city of Palmyra that they recaptured from jihadists this month.
Israel denied this, saying all its aircraft had returned unscathed.
“(Our) aircraft was at no point compromised,” army spokesman Peter Lerner said.
According to the Syrian forces, the Israeli warplanes attacked a military target near Palmyra, in what they described as an act of aggression that aided ISIS.
The Israeli air force said earlier that it had carried out several strikes on Syria overnight, but that none of the ground-to-air missiles fired by Syrian forces in response had hit Israeli aircraft.
“Overnight… aircraft targeted several targets in Syria,” an Israeli army statement said in an unusual confirmation by the Jewish state of air raids inside the war-torn country.
“Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and (army) aerial defense systems intercepted one of the missiles.”
None of the missiles fired from Syria hit their targets, the army added.
One missile was intercepted north of Jerusalem by Israel’s Arrow air defense system, Israeli media reported.
The army said the incident was the cause of sirens that wailed in Jewish settlement communities in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank.
Both Israeli and foreign media have reported a number of Israeli air strikes inside Syria targeting arms convoys of Lebanon’s “Hezbollah,” which fought a devastating war with Israel in the summer of 2006 and is now fighting alongside the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
In April 2016, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted for the first time that Israel had attacked dozens of convoys transporting weapons in Syria destined for Iran-backed “Hezbollah.”