Israel's Latest Strike in Syria: What We Know So Far

The Israeli army just attacked an anti-aircraft battery in Syria. Here's what you need to know

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An IAF F-15Credit: Ilan Assayag

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The Israeli army attacked an anti-aircraft battery deep in Syria on Monday in response to fire at Israeli planes on a routine reconnaissance. Here's what we know so far. 

What happened?

Syria launched a SA5-type missile at Israeli planes flying in Lebanese territory. The Syrian missiles missed their Israeli targets, but the Israel Defense Forces decided to strike the battery, seeing the attack as a "clear provocation."  The battery targeted is no longer operational, the army said.

Why were Israeli planes attacked?

Israel believes Syrian forces fired on the assumption that the Israeli planes intended to attack. The Israeli army spokesperson told reporters that the planes were on a reconnaissance mission in Lebanon, photographing sites for Israeli intelligence.

Who's involved?

The strike's target was an official regime site, not one tied to Hezbollah or Iran, which are aiding Syria in its bloody civil war. Before striking Syria, the IDF says it notified Russia of its intentions, as Russia too is involved in helping the Syrian regime.

Where did the attack happen?

The anti-aircraft battery Israel attacked is some 30 miles east of Damascus in Syria and such a strike deep in Syrian territory is highly unusual. In September, the Israeli military struck a chemical arms plant in Syria, foreign media reports claimed at the time. Israel refused to comment on those reports.

Has Assad responded?

Yes. The Syrian army warned of "dangerous consequences" and claimed they made direct contact with an Israeli jet, in contradiction to Israeli claims. They adding that the Israeli strike only caused minor damage and stated that they will continue to fight "terror organizations" acting as Israeli proxies.

What happens next?

The Israeli army says it is prepared for the possibility of Syrian retaliation, but does not see the incident as an escalation. Israel has attacked convoys bringing arms to Hezbollah and groups on several Israeli fronts dozens of times over the last five years, a top Israeli military commander confirmed last month. The number of Israeli attacks on such convoys since 2012 is approaching triple digits, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, the outgoing commander of the Israel Air Force, told Haaretz.

The strike comes as Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu is due to arrive in Israel for an official visit. He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is hosting him