Syria: Assad’s army claims downing of Israeli fighter jet

The Syrian National Army loyal to President Bashar al-Assad has claimed it brought down an Israeli fighter jet, after the Israeli aviation fired several missiles on a military outpost near capital Damascus.

The Israeli sorties according to the Syrian army took place Tuesday at dawn and targeted a military base in the city of al-Qutayfah, outside Damascus.

“Our air defenses responded to three Israeli missile attacks on military positions in the al-Qutayfah countryside,” official Syrian state media quoted military officials as saying.

Military officials told pro-Assad regime media, al-Mayadeen, that the army’s air defense system was able to intercept three missiles and hit one jet.

Israel, which usually does not comment on its military operations, has not confirmed the incidents.

Israeli sources and Syrian rebels opposed to Assad indicate that the military outpost houses long-range missiles. The base is reportedly used by Syrian military’s 155th Artillery Regiment.

The Syrian army claims that the first Israeli airstrikes were launched from inside Lebanon’s airspace, Turkish daily Sabah reports.

According to Ronen Solomon, an Israeli freelance intelligence analyst who tracks Syria’s weapons development programs, the 155th Artillery Regiment operates Scud missile launchers and “has been known since 2010 as the regiment that hosts Hezbollah’s advanced Scud missile base”, Times of Israel reports.

Israel has complained about alleged Iran’s presence in Northern Syria and in Lebanon. It fears Iran is building military bases in war-torn Syria. Iran has helped shore up President Assad’s regime by sending thousands of fighters and trainers.

Israel in December reportedly fired missiles at a suspected Iranian military base in Syria. Twelve Iranian military personnel were killed and several buildings destroyed, reports said.

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