Israel shoots down Syrian aircraft that entered its air space

The IDF said the fighter plane was shot down in the occupied Golan Heights

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The Independent Online

Israel has shot down a Syrian aircraft that entered its air space in the occupied Golan Heights.

Shortly after 7.50am (BST) the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) released a statement saying the aircraft was “intercepted” by the Patriot air defence system.

It is designed to stop incoming planes and missiles, tracking them with radar and exploding them as they enter Israeli territory.

The Golan Heights - along the border between the two countries - were annexed by Israel in 1981 and have seen fighting spill over from the Syrian Civil War in recent months.

The IDF provided no information on whether contact was made to ascertain why the plane was there, saying it was "identified while attempting to infiltrate Israeli air space" and "successfully hit" with a Patriot missile fired by the Israel Air Force.

A spokesperson said: “The circumstances of the incident are being reviewed.”

It could not be immediately confirmed whether there were any casualties but a photo shared by a journalist on Twitter claimed to show two Syrian pilots parachuting to the ground after ejecting from their plane.

In a blog post about the incident, the IDF said the border near the Golan Heights had become "highly unstable" in recent months as the conflict continues in Syria.

A spokesperson said IDF positions were hit by "errant fire" from Syria which wounded a soldier and projectiles have landed in its territory.

A drone from Syria was shot down on 31 August and the IDF targeted Syrian army positions in June after a 15-year-old Israeli was killed by an explosion along the border.

After the IDF launched operations in Syrian territory in May 2013, President Bashar al-Assad warned he would "respond to any Israeli aggression next time".

Additional reporting by Reuters