Syria says it shot down Israeli planes — Israel says it's 'total lies'

September 13, 2016, 3:43pm
A Syrian flag flutters in Syria close to the border fence with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

The Syrian military's claims they shot down Israeli aircraft are "total lies," according to a spokesperson from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

On Tuesday, the General Command of the Syrian Armed Forces released a statement claiming the army's air defense system downed an Israeli plane and drone earlier that morning.

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency later reported that the Israeli warplane went down near the town of Quneitra, while the drone was downed near Sa'sa', both in southern Syria.

"The Israeli attack came in support of the armed terrorist groups and in a desperate attempt to raise the deteriorating morale of their members due to the heavy losses they have suffered in Quneitra," read the report from the Syrian news agency, citing a military statement.

The online news outlet Al-Masdar Al-'Arabi also published a video on Tuesday, purporting to show an Israeli plane downed by a Syrian rocket, although it is far from clear.

The IDF, meanwhile, say they took out Syrian military targets after artillery fire from their northern border, but that all their aircraft returned safely.

"Overnight two surface-to-air missiles were launched from Syria after the mission overnight to target Syrian artillery positions," IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner told CNN.

According to Lerner, Israeli planes launched an attack on a Syrian army position in the occupied Golan Heights, in response to projectiles being launched from Syria into the territory which occurred hours into a ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia.

Yet Lerner claims that, during this raid, "at no point was the safety of IDF aircraft compromised," and that the SAF's claims are "completely false."

Lerner also noted that no casualties occurred as a result of projectiles being launched into the Golan Heights, where illegal Israeli settlements have been constructed since the territory was captured in the 1967 war between Israel and several neighboring states.

Earlier a projectile was launched from — Peter Lerner (@LTCPeterLerner)September 10, 2016

The Golan Heights have been repeatedly targeted by Syrian projectiles since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, with three different occurrences in the last week alone.

Israel has refrained from taking any major official involvement in the civil war in Syria, but it has launched attacks on Syrian targets after claiming to have been hit by projectiles from within the war torn state.

It has also been accused of targeting arms shipments said to be heading to Hezbollah, an active ally of the regime in the civil war and a long-time Israeli foe.

Last week, the IDF stated that it holds the regime "accountable for this blatant breach of Israeli sovereignty," referring to the projectile strikes, and claimed, "the IDF will continue to act in order to safeguard Israel and its civilians."

Follow Davide Mastracci on Twitter: @DavideMastracci