JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that penetrated more than a mile into its airspace.
Two Patriot missiles intercepted the Russian-made Sukhoi on Tuesday afternoon, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. The plane reportedly crashed into the Yarmouk area in Syria; it was not immediately confirmed if the two pilots ejected before the plane was downed.
The IDF said the plane was under surveillance as it approached and breached the border.
The missiles set off Code Red alerts throughout Israel’s Golan Heights.
According to the IDF, there has been an increase in fighting in Syria near the border with Israel since Tuesday morning as well as activity by the Syrian air forces.
“The IDF is on high alert and will continue to operate against the violation of the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement,” the IDF said, referring to the agreement on disengagement between Israel and Syria following the Yom Kippur War.
Syria’s official state-run SANA news agency cited an unnamed military source as saying that the warplane had been hitting rebel targets in the area of Sidon on the outskirts of the Yarmouk Valley in Syrian airspace when it was struck it.
“The Israeli enemy confirms its adoption of the armed terrorist groups and targets one of our warplanes,” the military source told SANA.
On Monday, Israel for the first time fired the David’s Sling missile defense system following the launch of two Syrian surface-to-surface missiles that appeared likely to land in Israel.
In 2014, Israel’s military shot down a Russian-made Syrian jet that had entered Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights.
Code Red missile alerts have been sounding in northern Israel in recent weeks due to fighting in Syria near the border with Israel as part of the country’s ongoing civil war and due to the infiltration of several Syrian drones.