TEL AVIV (Sep. 13)
Today’s Israeli-Syrian air battle in which 13 Syrian MIG-21s and one Israeli Mirage were downed was a two phase battle, Israeli Air Commander Gen. Benyamin Peled disclosed tonight. He said the first phase occurred when 16 Syrian MIGs attacked an Israeli patrol over international waters. Nine MIGs were shot down and one Israeli Mirage was hit and its pilot bailed out.
The second phase occurred when four Syrian MIGs tried to interfere with the rescue operation and were shot down. Peled said. In all, more than 30 Israeli and Syrian aircraft were engaged in the battle. The Israeli planes were Phantoms and Mirages.
The rescued Israeli pilot, whose name and rank were withheld for security reasons, told reporters that he was hit by either a rocket or cannon after he shot down one MIG. He said he didn’t see the plane that hit him. He shut off his engine, glided to a lower altitude and ejected at about 10,000 feet. The pilot spent two hours in a rubber dinghy until he was rescued by an Israeli helicopter.
The helicopter also rescued a downed Syrian pilot who was floating in his own dinghy not far from the Israeli. He was hospitalized and reported in good condition.