By Kaamil Ahmed
JERUSALEM (AA): Days after the Syrian army claimed to have downed an Israeli jet, Israel’s defense minister on Sunday threatened to “destroy” Syrian air defense systems in case of any future encounters.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel would continue to prevent arms being transferred through Syria to Lebanese Hezbollah despite wanting to keep out of the Syrian civil war itself, Israel Radio reported.
Though the Israeli military has denied any of its fighter jets were shot down, it did say Friday that it had intercepted several anti-aircraft missiles.
Syrian state news agency Sana said four Israeli jets carried out strikes near the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.
Despite rarely previously responding to Israeli operations inside Syria, the Syrian foreign ministry said the military fired at the Israeli jets “to defend the sanctity of its territory.”
Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday summoned Israel’s ambassador to explain the activity – the first time Israel has been asked to do so since Russia entered the Syrian war two years ago.
The two countries have closely co-ordinated their Syria policies with each other during this period, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin having met five times since the beginning of 2015.
[Photo: Two Israeli Air Force F1 5 Raam aircraft practice over Nevada Training Ranges at Nellis Airforce Base Nevada, US. Photograph by GT KEVIN J. GRUENWALD, USAF/ Public Domain]