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Israeli Jets Attack Targets in Syria, Shoot Down Missile

  • VOA News

FILE - An Israeli soldier rests after completing a 45 kilomter march in the Jordan Valley, Jan. 2, 2014. The Jordan Valley is part of the West Bank and borders Jordan.

FILE - An Israeli soldier rests after completing a 45 kilomter march in the Jordan Valley, Jan. 2, 2014. The Jordan Valley is part of the West Bank and borders Jordan.

Israel's military said it shot down one of several anti-aircraft missiles Friday as it carried out predawn airstrikes on Syria, in a rare military exchange between the neighboring countries.

Syria's army said it shot down one Israeli military jet and hit another during the operation. Israel said all of its aircraft returned home safely after attacking several targets in Syria.

Air raid sirens alerted residents in Israel's Jordan Valley to the aerial action. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the airstrikes targeted weapons in Syria bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah fighters, and he vowed Israel would continue to carry out such raids when necessary.

"When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah and we have intelligence and it is operationally feasible, we act to prevent it," Netanyahu said.

Aiding Assad

Hezbollah is fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country's civil war. The Iran-backed group fought a monthlong war with the Jewish state in 2006.

Friday's incident was one of the most serious military exchanges between Israel and Syria since 2011, when the Syrian civil war began.

Syria said Israel attacked a military target near Palmyra, and it denounced the airstrike as an act of aggression that amounted to assistance for the Islamic State group.

Jordan, which borders both Israel and Syria, said part of the Syrian missile that Israel shot down fell in its rural northern areas.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) issued a rare statement acknowledging the operation: "Overnight, March 17, [Israeli Air Force] aircraft targeted several targets in Syria. Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission, and IDF aerial defense systems intercepted one of the missiles. At no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or the IAF aircraft compromised."

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