Israel Downs Syrian Warplane near Golan Heights

An Iron Dome anti-missile system can be seen near the Israeli side of the border with Syria in the Golan Heights Israel

According to Israeli reports, the incident happened over the Israeli-occupied territory, a claim disputed by Syrian news agency Sana which said the plane had been targeted over Syrian airspace.

The military statement said on Tuesday that two Patriot missiles were launched at the Sukhoi jet after it crossed 2km "into Israeli territory".

The jet entered about 1.2 miles into Israeli airspace before it was hit by a pair of Patriot missiles, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The incident added new fuel to weeks of tensions over the Golan, a strategic plateau between the two old enemies and where Israel has been on high alert as Syrian government forces, supported by Russian Federation, close in to regain rebel-held ground. A United Nations peacekeeping force was deployed in the region in 1974, when a demilitarised buffer zone was established.

On Tuesday, a Lebanese newssite quoted a Syrian military officer as saying that Damascus has no intention of rushing into a war with Israel after the downing of the plane, but "the response to the downing of the jet will come soon enough".

The Syrian Government said the jet was sacked on as it took part in operations against rebels on Syrian territory.

The IDF added, "Since this morning, characteristics of internal warfare appeared in Syria, including growing activity by Syrian air forces".

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The IDF said that the plane was under surveillance as it approached and breached the border.

According to the Ynet news site Russian Federation protested Israel's actions, with officials claiming the fighter had not breached Israeli airspace as Jerusalem has claimed.

Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters, "We have passed a number of messages, in a number of languages in order to ensure that no one violates Israeli air space".

'We do not have any information so far about the pilots.

Israeli forces said they are on high alert and would continue to protect Israeli territory. It was then intercepted by the Patriot missiles'.

"Israel has confirmed by this aggressive raid that it is patronizing terrorist formations, against which the Syrian troops are conducting military operations", the source stressed.

An AFP correspondent said smoke could be seen rising from the area of the fence between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Both pilots ejected, injured.

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