March 2017 Israel–Syria incident

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Syrian Civil War
Part of Israeli-Syrian border incidents during the Syrian Civil War and Iran-Israel proxy conflict
Arrow2launcher.jpg
An Israeli Arrow 2 missile launcher, similar to one used at the beginning of the current Israeli/Syrian conflict
Date March 17, 2017
Location Golan Heights
Belligerents
 Israel  Syria
Units involved
 Israeli Air Force Syrian Air Defense Force
Casualties and losses
One fighter jet shot down (Syrian claim)[1] Unknown

The March 2017 Israel–Syria incident took place on 17 March 2017, the Syrian Army fired several S-200 missiles at Israeli jets above Golan Heights. Syrian Armed Forces claimed that Israeli Air Force jets had previously struck a military site in Syria, near Palmyra, while Israel refused to comment on this specific claim. Israel reported that one Syrian missile had been shot down by an Arrow 2 missile, while none of its aircraft had been damaged.[2] Israel stated it was targeting weapon shipments headed toward anti-Israeli forces, specifically Hezbollah, in Lebanon.[2]

Syria claimed to have shot down one Israeli aircraft.[1][3][4][5] Israel denied Syria's claim that one jet fighter was shot down and another damaged. Israel has not reported any pilots or aircraft missing in Syria, or anywhere else in the Middle East following the incident. Also, neither Syria nor Hezbollah have shown photos or video of downed Israeli aircraft or personnel. According to some sources, the incident was the first time Israeli officials clearly confirmed an Israeli strike against Hezbollah during the Syrian Civil War.[6]

Following a generic statement by the Israeli Defense Forces reading "Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission, and IDF aerial defense systems intercepted one of the missiles. At no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or the IAF aircraft compromised",[7] several news reports started speculating about the use of the Arrow system to defend jet fighters from hostile surface to air missiles. However other Israeli news publications confirmed that the initial reading of the IDF statement was wrong; in fact, the IDF said that the jet fighters were never in danger and the missiles were far from the planes. But the IDF detected Syrian S-200 missiles on course to reach Israel, so the Arrow missile system was used to prevent them falling on settled areas.[8] Indeed a S-200, after losing its target, hence going ballistic, has approximately the size, the speed and the range of a battlefield artillery rocket such as the FROG-7, which is one of the very standard targets the Israeli missile defense is shaped around. The Jordanian Armed Forces reported that a part of the Arrow missile fell in its territory. There were no casualties in Jordan.[9]

Syrian response

S-200 missile, similar to the ones fired at Israeli Air Force fighter jets, seen here in a Ukrainian museum

In response to the fourth round of Israeli bombings, the administration of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has threatened war with Israel, stating it will fire Scud missiles at Israeli cities, and that the Syrian government will specifically target the Israeli city of Haifa. In response to the rhetoric from Damascus, Israel stated that any such moves by Syria will cause Israel to begin targeting Syrian air defense systems.[10]

Aftermath

On 19 March an Israeli Skylark drone crashed in Syria reportedly due to human error.[11] There were further reports on alleged Israeli airstrikes on 22 March 2017, with another round of bombings carried out on suspected Hezbollah targets near Damascus.[12]

References

  1. ^ a b "Syrian army says it shot down Israeli jet". Sky News. 2017-03-17. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  2. ^ a b CNN, Oren Liebermann and Euan McKirdy. "Israeli jets strike inside Syria; evade anti-aircraft missiles". CNN. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  3. ^ "סוריה: "4 מטוסים תקפו מוצב צבאי. תהיה תגובה ישירה"". Ynet (in Hebrew). 2017-03-17. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  4. ^ Opall-Rome, Barbara (2017-03-17). "Israel's Arrow scores first operational hit — but against what?". Defense News. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  5. ^ Opall-Rome, Barbara (2017-03-20). "Israel explains Arrow intercept of Syrian SAM". Defense News. Retrieved 2017-03-20. 
  6. ^ "IDF denies claim that Syria shot down Israeli jet". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  7. ^ "Israeli Jets Attack Targets in Syria, Shoot Down Missile". Voice of America. 2017-03-17. Retrieved 2017-03-27. 
  8. ^ "רוסיה דורשת הבהרות מישראל; נתניהו: מונעים נשק מתקדם לחיזבאללה". Ynet (in Hebrew). 2017-03-17. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  9. ^ Weizman, Steve. "Netanyahu: Syria raids targeted 'advanced' Hezbollah arms". Agence France-Presse via Yahoo News. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  10. ^ "Syria threatens to fire Scud missiles at Israel — report". Times of Israel. 2017-03-25. Retrieved 2017-03-25. 
  11. ^ The drone went down due to human error made by the troops who were flying it
  12. ^ Reed, John; Solomon, Erika. "Israeli air raids in Syria raise fears of wider conflict". Financial Times. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
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