Last week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least six Syrian regime personnel and allies had been killed on Saturday in an Israeli Air Force (IAF) strike in Syria.
The report, announced via Twitter, stated that the casualties included those “of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities,” but did not elaborate.
The IDF Spokesman’s office confirmed that the military had launched a large-scale attack against Syrian aerial defense systems and Iranian targets in Syria. “Twelve targets, including three aerial defense batteries” consisting of Syrian SA-5 and SA-17 surface-to-air missile batteries and “four Iranian targets that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria were attacked.”
The strike was in response to an infiltration into Israel by an Iranian drone earlier that day. The drone originated from an airfield near Palmyra, Syria, and was successfully intercepted and destroyed by an IDF Apache helicopter.
During Saturday’s IAF attacks, one Israeli F-16 was shot down after being hit by a Syrian surface-to-air missile. According to reports, Syrians fired 10 missiles at one of the fighter planes participating in the operation, and one was able to lock on to its target. The two pilots were able to eject from the craft before it was hit. Both landed in Israeli territory, but were injured upon impact.
The incident marks the first time an Israeli fighter jet has been shot down in over 30 years, the last occurrence having taken place in 1982 during the first Lebanon War. Despite the loss of the F-16, however, the operation was certainly an overall win for Israel. The IAF conducted another round of strikes on the same area immediately following the shoot-down, and overall managed to destroy half of all Syrian air defenses according to reports.