TEL AVIV (Jun. 27)
Israel Air Force jets shot down five Syrian MIG-21 interceptors in an air battle over south Lebanon this morning, the first since the Yom Kippur War. A military communique said the Syrian planes were engaged in the area of Sidon when they tried to intervene against an Israeli air strike on terrorist targets. The Israeli aircraft completed their mission and returned safely to their bases, the communique said.
Later, Israel Air Force Commander, Gen. David Ivri disclosed that F-15 jets participated in the action and observed that it was the first time the highly sophisticated American-made combat plane shot down Soviet-made planes. He said almost every type of Air Force interceptor took part in the battle, including the Israel-made Kfir. The number of Israeli aircraft engaged was not disclosed. The number of Syrian planes was-put at 8-12. Israeli pilots said after de-briefing that they are convinced five Syrian planes were downed and that hits may have been scored on 2-3 others.
(In Washington today, State Department spokesman Tom Reston said Israel’s use of American-made aircraft over Leban