Photo Credit: Major Ofer, Israeli Air Force
Israel Air Force F-16I 'Sufa'

Russian troops stationed in Syria launched anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli Air Forces (IAF) fighter jets on a mission in Syria a few months ago, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz confirmed.

Speaking at the Channel 13 Policy Conference on Tuesday, Gantz revealed that about two months ago, a Russian S-300 battery launched missiles at IAF planes in Syria, the first such incident.

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According to him, “this is a one-time event, our planes were not around at all,” and the missiles were fired when the IAF planes were already on their way back from the mission.

“The situation is stable, but we are looking at this story as if we have just started,” he added.

The Russians have supplied the Syrian army with four S-300 batteries but the Russian officers make the decisions inside the batteries.

The IDF and the Russian military maintain a line of communication to prevent military clashes between the forces in Syria.

Over the years, the IAF has carried out thousands of attacks in Syria to thwart the Iranian entrenchment in the war-torn country and to prevent Hezbollah from accumulating advanced weapons.

The jets often encounter anti-aircraft fire launched by Syrian batteries which use a lower-grade weapon and have a reduced effect on the strikes.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported (SOHR), the IAF conducted 29 strikes in Syria throughout 2021. The attacks hit 71 targets and killed 130 people, including 125 combatants from the Syrian military, Hezbollah, and Iranian-backed Shiite militias. The IAF has conducted at least 17 attacks in Syria since the beginning of 2022.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.