Israel shoots down Assad warplane as Syria tensions rise

Sukhoi SU-33

The plane suffered a direct hit and crashed in the Yarmouk area in Syria.

Syria's state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV was broadcasting footage from the fence of the United Nations buffer zone between Syrian and Israeli forces minutes before the plane was targeted.

Israel has lent heavily on Moscow for support in its campaign to prevent southwest Syria from becoming a stronghold of Iranian and Iranian-backed forces as the Syrian government reclaims previously rebel-held territory in the area. It was not immediately clear if the pilot ejected before the fighter jet was shot down.

On Tuesday, a Lebanese newssite quoted a Syrian military officer as saying that Damascus has no intention of rushing into a war with Israel after the downing of the plane, but "the response to the downing of the jet will come soon enough".

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"It was shot down and it crashed...most likely in the southern part of the Syrian Golan Heights", Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said.

Israel "targeted one of our warplanes.in Syrian airspace", the source said, cited by state news agency SANA.

Netanyahu also met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Jerusalem on Monday to discuss the Syrian conflict.

The source said the plane fell in a pocket of territory held by Islamic State-affiliated forces adjoining the occupied Golan Heights.

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The IDF, in a statement Tuesday, said that it noticed increased activity in southwestern Syria near the Israel-Syria border.

The Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet was intercepted Tuesday by two Patriot missiles launched from Safed after the jet penetrated 2 kilometers into Israeli airspace.

Although the White Helmets offer aid to anyone who needs it on either side of the conflict, the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad views them as terrorists because they offer humanitarian aid to his opponents. "This is a blatant violation of the separation of forces agreements between us and Syria in 1974".

Iran is Israel's arch-enemy and Netanyahu has pledged to prevent it from entrenching itself militarily in Syria. The missiles - fired as part of internal Syrian fighting - fell short of the border, and the interceptors did not engage with them.

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Russia, Assad's main ally, is closely coordinating with Israel on matters concerning the Jewish state's security concerns in Syria.

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