Israeli military claims it shot down a Syrian missile
Israel says its ballistic missile shield intercepted a projectile launched at its air force
File image of a test launch for an Israeli ballistic missile interceptor. File photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters
The Israeli military said it shot down one of several anti-aircraft missiles launched on Friday at its air force as it was operating in Syria, in a rare such incident between the neighbouring countries.
An Israeli military source said Israel’s Arrow ballistic missile shield had identified an “incoming threat” and shot down one of the projectiles.
The Syrian army said it had shot down an Israeli jet during the Israeli military operation. Israel denied this, saying that all its aircraft had returned unscathed.
“At no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or the IAF (Israeli air force) aircraft compromised,” an Israeli military spokesman said.
Rocket sirens had sounded in the early morning in Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank. Two Reuters witnesses heard an explosion a few minutes later.
The military said in a statement that one of the anti-aircraft missiles had been intercepted.
A Jordanian civil defence source said a projectile had landed in a village on the outskirts of the northern Jordanian city of Irbid, about 20km from the Syrian and Israeli borders, causing light damage.
The source said army engineers were examining the object, believed to be fired from Syrian territory in the direction of Israel.
The blast was heard as far away as Jerusalem, dozens of miles away.
There were no reports of casualties or damage.
Video posted on social media purported to show remnants of a rocket, possibly parts of the intercepting missile, though Reuters was unable to independently verify the footage.
“Overnight, IAF (Israeli air force) aircraft targeted several targets in Syria. Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and IDF (Israel defence force) aerial defence systems intercepted one of the missiles,” the Israeli military said in its statement.
Israel has carried out dozens of strikes to prevent weapons-smuggling to the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hizbullah, which is fighting rebels alongside the Syrian army.
However, the interception of a missile making its way over the Syrian border was an uncommon incident.
‘Act of aggression’
Syria’s army high command said in a statement on Friday that Israeli jets had breached Syrian air space early in the morning and attacked a military target near Palmyra, in what it described as an act of aggression that aided Islamic State.
It said its air defences shot down one of the Israeli jets over what it called “occupied ground” and damaged another. Israel denies this.
Israeli media said the Syrian army had fired surface-to-air missiles at the Israeli aircraft.
Last week, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu met in Moscow with Russian president Vladimir Putin to discuss what he said were Iran’s attempts to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria.
Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy, has been Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s staunchest backer in Syria’s six-year civil war and has provided militia fighters to help him.
Israel is concerned Hizbullah, with which it fought a war in 2006, is trying to obtain sophisticated weapons it could use against Israel.