BEIRUT - The Syrian army chief of staff said they downed an Israeli military jet today and hit another one over the Bureij region near the border with Lebanon.
According to a statement of the army chief of staff in Damascus, at 2:40 am last night (1:40 Italian time) four Israeli military jets entered Syrian airspace from Lebanon. The jets, according to the statement, ''hit Syrian military positions east of Homs, towards Palmyra''.
Israel has later denied Syria's claim that it shot down one of its warplanes during clashes last night and that another was hit near the border with Lebanon."We repeat, at no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or the IAF aircraft compromised", an Israeli army spokesperson was quoted as saying by local media.
Syrian anti-aircraft artillery reportedly opened fire, downing one of the jets, which ''fell on occupied territories'' of Israel, allegedly on the Golan Heights controlled by Israeli forces. A second place was ''hit'', according to the statement, which did not provide further details, while the other two reportedly left Syrian airspace unharmed.
Previously, Israeli military radio had reported a clash - considered the most serious since the start of the civil war in Syria - in which Israel had used for the first time the Arrow-3 anti-missile defense system against an anti-aircraft rocket launched by Syria following an Israeli air raid. The Israeli radio spoke about a ''dramatic night''.
Syria: Israel uses anti-missile system Arrow-3 in first
TEL AVIV - In clashes last night - considered the most serious since the start of the civil war in Syria - Israel used for the first time the Arrow-3 anti-missile defense system against a rocket launched by the Syrian anti-aircraft missiles after an Israeli air raid, military radio reports. The radio spoke about a ''dramatic night''. The system has been conceived and built to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles. Citing anonymous Arab sources, the website Ynet reported that Israeli jets hit ''sophisticated fighting systems'' in Syria aimed at Lebanese Hezbollah militants. It added that it was allegedly a ''provision of a strategic nature''. When the Israeli aircraft were returning to their base - continued the website - SA-5 were allegedly fired in their direction. The distance between those missiles and the jets was big enough for the airplanes not to be in danger, according to the report. But it was decided to use the Arrow-3 system anyway, Ynet reported, speaking about a ''dramatic night'' - to prevent one of the Syrian missiles from exploding on Israeli territory. Fragments of the Israeli Arrow missile fell on Jordan territory. Alarm sirens went off in the high Jordan valley. Echoes of strong explosions were also heard twice in Jerusalem, in spite of the great distance from the site of the incident.