Israeli jets destroyed five Syrian antiaircraft batteries early Thursday morning and, dealing a heavy blow to embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s air defenses.
After Iranian forces fired 20 rockets at Israeli military positions on the Golan Heights on Wednesday night, Israel Air Force planes entered Syrian airspace to attack dozens of Iranian targets on Syrian territory. The Syrians fired dozens of antiaircraft missiles at the Israeli jets but did not hit any of them.
In response, the army attacked five Syrian antiaircraft batteries and destroyed them all. The IAF said all the batteries belonged to the Syrian army and were Russian-built models: SA-22, SA-2, SA-5 and SA-17.
The Russian Ministry said reported that 28 Israeli jets took part in the strike, firing more than 60 missiles, adding that Syria shot down more than half of Israel's missiles.
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Twenty-three fighters were killed in the strike, 18 of them foreigners, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
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In February, the army destroyed three other Syrian antiaircraft batteries after an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace. Israel then attacked the drone’s launch and control van and the Syrians fired antiaircraft missiles at the Israeli jets, shooting down an Israeli F-16 flying over Israel. The IDF estimates that about 20 antiaircraft were fired at the Israeli planes, and the remnants of at least four fell in open areas inside Israel.
In response, Israel attacked the Syrian air defense system and destroyed the three batteries that fired the missiles, as well as attacking four Iranian targets inside Syria.