Israeli jets 'drop ammunition' in sortie over Syria

Syria was considering its response last night after an Israeli warplane violated Syrian air space and was accused of dropping ammunition inside the country. The incident, near the Turkish border on Wednesday, came just after midnight at a time when tensions are running high between the two neighbours. It prompted Syrian air defence units to open fire on the Israeli jets, Syrian officials said.

The Israeli aircraft "infiltrated Syrian air space through the northern border, coming from the direction of the Mediterranean, and headed towards northeastern territory, breaking the sound barrier," said the official Syrian news agency, Sana. "The Syrian Arab Republic warns the government of the Israeli enemy and reserves the right to respond according to what it sees fit."

A Syrian official added: "They dropped bombs on an empty area while our air defences were firing heavily at them." Residents said they heard the sound of five planes or more above the Tal al-Abiad area on Syria's border with Turkey, about 100 miles north of the Syrian city of Rakka.

The Israeli army refused to comment on the incident but no casualties or damage were reported. "We cannot discuss military operations," a spokesman said.

However, it is not the first such incident and there was speculation yesterday that the Israeli planes may have jettisoned their fuel tanks over the deserted area to make them more manoeuvrable, possibly after being targeted by Syrian forces. The Israelis may also have been probing Syria's defences, or could simply have experienced a technical problem during a flight.

In 2003, Israeli jets struck what Israel described as a Palestinian training camp on Syrian soil, in retaliation for a suicide bombing in Haifa on the eve of the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. Rime Allaf, a Syrian defence specialist based in Damascus, said yesterday: "The Israeli military sends what it calls 'messages to Syria' in this way."

In June last year, Israeli jets buzzed the summer residence of Bashar Assad, the Syrian President, after the Palestinian militant group Hamas, whose leader is sheltered by Damascus, captured an Israeli soldier in Gaza. Aircraft also broke the sound barrier over his palace in Damascus at the beginning of the Lebanon war, in what was seen as a clear message about Syria's support for the guerrilla group Hizbollah. Mohsen Bilal, the Syrian Information minister, said: "Israel does not want peace. It cannot survive without aggression, treachery and military messages." The recent offer to Israel of $30bn (£14.8bn) in American aid over the next 10 years had encouraged the Israeli government to "such arrogance that it delivered this morning message", he claimed. Mr Bilal added that his government was "seriously studying the nature of the response" but did not say whether it would be military or diplomatic.

In the past, Syria has approached the UN Security Council in response to Israeli violations of Syrian territorial integrity and has not retaliated directly. But the two nations have been sending mixed messages to each other about their peace prospects. Syria has stepped up calls for talks to discuss the return of the strategic Golan Heights, captured by Israel in 1967. But since last summer's 34-day Lebanon war, in which Hizbollah fighters stood up to Israeli forces, a hardline faction in the leadership in Damascus have argued that Syria "should be ready to show it is ready for war if need be", Ms Allaf said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Contracts / Sales Administrator

£19500 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Knowledge of and ability to use...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence