The downing may have resulted from a well-laid Syrian army trap
After over 100 attacks on its soil over the years the Syrian armed forces have finally shot down one IAF aggressor. Israel has confirmed the loss. The two pilots ejected over northern Israel, one of them is severely wounded, CNN:
Both pilots aboard the Israeli jet are safe, the Israeli army said, although one pilot was severely injured as a result of an emergency evacuation from the plane.
The downing of the F-16 may have resulted from a well-laid trap.
Earlier in the day an Iranian-made drone crossed over into Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israel shot down the drone, but also predictably launched attacks against targets just to the west of Damascus, deep in Syrian territory. Once the Israeli bomber group reached their target "deep inside Syrian territory" they were met with "massive anti-aircraft fire" and one of the F-16s consequently didn't make it home. The Jerusalem Post:
Early on Saturday morning an Iranian drone, which was launched from a Syrian base in the Homs desert, was identified approaching Israeli airspace by the IDF around 4 am, setting off alarms across the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley. Upon entering Israel it was intercepted by an Israeli Air Force Apache helicopter near the town of Beit She’an.
In response, Israeli aircraft targeted the drone’s launch site deep inside Syrian territory in a “complicated surgical strike,” in which heavy anti-aircraft missile fire was launched by the Syrians against the Israeli jets.
Did Syrians first ring the Homs airbase mentioned above with heavy air defenses, then sent a drone over to Golan specifically to goad IAF to send its jets against well-prepared defenses? It's certainly what the Israeli Air Force is hinting at.
Predictably Israel is responding by launching yet more attacks in the Damascus area with strike aircraft and cruise missiles. Syrians say they've successfully shot down some of the missiles.
Aside from launching over one hundred attacks on Syrian soil since 2013 the Israeli Air Force also shot down a Syrian Su-24 ground attack plane in 2014. Israel claimed the plane had crossed into IDF-occupied Golan Heights.
IDF now confirms the "Homs base" Israelis claim the Iranian-built drone was launched from is the T4 airbase near Palmyra. That means that Israel attacked Syrian installations where Russian troops were based in 2017. It is not known if Russian troops are still present there.
In an official statement on the Israeli attacks the Russian foreign ministry has said that creation of threats for the Russian military contingent in Syria was "unacceptable" – clearly a warning to Israel to puck its targets very, very carefuly.
The Israeli plane was brought down by a Russian-made rocket but not of the latest generation. The damage was dealt by an S-200 missile which dates back to the 1960s and Syria acquired in the 1980s, however it was not the only type of missile that was fired against the Israeli jet.
Russia continues its delivery of Pantsir S1 short range anti-aircraft systems to Syria ordered in 2007.
This is the first Israeli aircraft loss to Syria since 1982.
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