The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have destroyed a Syrian combat aircraft using the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system. The Israeli army reported that a Sukhoi fighter jet was intercepted and a missile was fired at it. The fact that the targeted aircraft was actually downed was not reported by Israeli forces. The Syrian Ministry of Defense has confirmed the loss of the Su-22 aircraft. According to some reports, the pilot survived but was captured by ISIL militants. Social media users indicate that the pilot was most likely killed.
According to Israeli sources, the Syrian Army aircraft, while performing a maneuver, ventured one mile into Israeli territory and the military was required to shoot it down. Tel Aviv has emphasized that over the course of several hours on July 24, they issued radio messages in multiple languages warning of the danger of flying above the Golan Heights.
Official spokesperson for the Israeli Army Jonathan Conricus said that the Israeli Defense Forces were aware that they were attacking specifically a Syrian aircraft and not a Russian one. “We do not have information about the fate of the crew of the downed fighter jet, we do not know if the pilots managed to eject themselves. We do know that the aircraft took off from Syrian airbase T4, and quickly flew into the Golan Heights, violating Israeli airspace, after which it was shot down and fell onto the Syrian side of the Golan Heights” said Conricus.
The Syrian military has not specified exactly where the fighter-bomber went down, however, Arab-speaking media outlets have stated that the downed aircraft fell into Syrian territory in the Yarmouk River Basin. A SANA [Syrian Arab News Agency] source within the Syrian military claims that the Su-22 pilot was following an order to bomb a position occupied by the Islamist group “Khalid ibn al-Walid Army” associated with ISIL. After the anti-aircraft attack the pilot may have survived, but most likely he was captured by militants. Social media posts attest to a different version—they claim that the pilot most likely was killed. Islamic World Update tweeted that the pilot who was shot down and killed was Colonel Omran Mari.
The incident with the downed Su-22 is the latest clash between Israeli and Syrian forces in July. On July 22, the Israeli army carried out a strike on Syrian army positions in the west of Syria, in the area around the city of Hama. Syrian forces have reported that using their anti-aircraft system they were able to shoot down an Israeli missile.
In the summer of 2018, the Syrian army, having taken most of the countries territory under control, has come very close to the Golan Heights—a region of Syria, which since 1974 has been under the control of Israeli forces.