Syrian air defences downed Saturday an Israeli fighter jet in response to an act of "aggression" against a military base, Syrian state media reported with Israeli army confirming the news, and later saying it had launched a "large scale" attack on more Syrian military targets in response to the downing of its jet.
"The Israeli enemy entity at dawn today conducted a new aggression against one of the military bases in the central region. Our air defences confronted it and hit more than one plane," the unidentified military source said.
The Israeli military confirmed that an Israeli fighter jet was hit by Syrian army fire and crashed in northern Israel after it targeted an alleged Iranian drone that had allegedly entered Israeli airspace.
The two pilots ejected from the fighter jet, according to the Israeli army and both were taken to hospital. Haaretz reported later that one of the pilots was in serious condition.
"IDF [Israel Defence Forces] has targeted the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the #UAV into Israeli airspace. Massive Syrian Anti-Air fire, one F16 crashed in Israel, pilots safe," Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said on Twitter.
Meanwhile the military alliance fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad said Israel’s claims that a drone had entered its airspace were a “lie” and warned that Israel will witness a "severe and serious" response to its "terrorism" from now on.
The alliance added that drones had left the T4 air base in the morning to conduct routine operations against the Islamic State group in the Syrian desert.
"When the base was targeted our aircraft were still flying over the town of Sokhna, towards the desert," the statement said. Sokhna is a town northeast of the city of Palmyra in central Syria.
After the downing of the Israeli jet, Syrian state news agency SANA reported that Syrian air defences were responding to a "new Israeli aggression" following the downing of the Israeli jet.
The Israeli military confirmed the subsequent attacks and said it launched a large scale attack against Syrian aerial defense systems and Iranian targets in Syria.
"Twelve targets, including three aerial defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran's military establishment in Syria were attacked," the military said in a statement later Saturday.
"During the attack, anti-aircraft missiles were fired towards Israel, triggering alarms that were heard in Northern Israel." Syrian State television stations also said sounds of explosions believed to be from Israeli attacks were heard in the Damascus countryside.
The Syrian retaliation and subsequent downing of the Israeli jet is the first confrontation of its kind in decades between an Arab army and Israel.
The Israeli army has carried out dozens of strikes inside Syria over the past few years since the beginning of the war in 2011. Tel Aviv says it is targeting growing Iranian and Hezbollah presence in Syria which it sees as a national security threat.