Israel says it won’t escalate tensions with Syria following retaliatory strike


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli airstrikes incapacitated a missile launcher deep in Syria that had fired toward Israeli military jets.

The Israel Defense Forces said “the incident is over and there is no intention of escalation” after its Air Force struck the launcher near Damascus on Sunday, rendering it inoperable. According to the IDF, the Syrian surface-to-air missile was fired that morning during a “routine flight” by the jets over Lebanon.

The fighter jets returned safely to their bases.

The IDF said the targeting of Israeli jets required retaliation.

“We see the Syrian regime as responsible for all the firing carried out from its territory, which is a clear Syrian provocation and we will not allow it,” IDF spokesman Brig.- Gen. Ronen Manlis said. “We reserve the freedom of action, but for us the incident is over and there is no intention of escalation.”

Israel reportedly updated Russia, an ally of Syria, about the attack and retaliatory strike as it was taking place.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was scheduled to arrive for a planned visit to Israel later on Monday.

In the hours following the Israeli strike, the Syrian army warned of “dangerous consequences” for Israel’s “repeated aggression.” Syria said the planes it fired on had crossed into Syrian airspace. The IDF said the planes never left the airspace above Lebanon.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also defended the strike on the missile launcher.

“Our policy is clear: If anyone attempts to harm us, we will harm them back,” he said in a statement issued by his office. “Today they tried to hit our airplanes — we do not accept this. The Air Force acted precisely, quickly, and destroyed what had to be destroyed. We will continue to act as needed to protect Israel’s security.”

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