The Syrian government is complaining that Israeli warplanes violated the country’s airspace during a sortie to destroy an anti-aircraft unit near the capital of Damascus.

Israeli officials, meanwhile, countered that some of its planes that were conducting a surveillance mission were first fired upon by Syrian anti-air batteries while they were in Lebanese airspace. The Israel Defense Force said none of the planes were struck by a single anti-aircraft missile.

According to a statement from Damascus, “The aircraft of Israel’s Air Force violated [Syria’s] airspace near the border with Lebanon in the Baalbek area at 08:51 a.m. local time (05:51 GMT)” and therefore were attacked by the Syrian air defense systems. The statement also claimed that “one of the planes was hit, which forced the aircraft to leave.”

It’s believed to be the first time since the Syria civil war began in 2011 that Israeli warplanes were targeted by Syrian government anti-air batteries, according to Israeli officials.

Analyst comment: Syria is rump state at the moment and the last thing it needs is to pick a fight with Israel. That said, the Israelis are well aware that, under the cover of Moscow’s and Damascus’ forces, Iran is moving in to fill a power vacuum left in the border regions after six years of war. Look for Israel to continue harassing and interdicting Iranian and Syrian efforts to encroach on its borders.

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