Israel downs Syrian warplane, rejects Russia’s proposed 100-km buffer zone offer

by WorldTribune Staff, July 23, 2018

Israel on July 22 rejected Russia’s offer of a buffer zone that would keep Iranian forces in Syria away from the Golan Heights ceasefire line.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: ‘We will not allow the Iranians to establish themselves even 100 kilometers from the border.’ / Flash90

Meanwhile, Israel on July 24 said it shot down a Syrian warplane that crossed into the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel’s military said it fired Patriot interceptor missiles at a Syrian Sukhoi jet that crossed 2 kilometers (1 mile) into Israeli-controlled air space, after first trying to warn it off.

“It was shot down and it crashed…most likely in the southern part of the Syrian Golan Heights,” Israeli military spokesman Lt.-Col. Jonathan Conricus said. “We do not have any information so far about the pilots.”

Damascus said a Syrian warplane was targeted by Israel and hit while conducting raids in Syrian-controlled airspace.

Earlier, Israel launched two David’s Sling interceptor missiles at rockets which it said crashed inside Syrian territory and were part of the internal fighting there, the Reuters report said. It was Israel’s first operational use of the mid-range David’s Sling.

An Israeli source said the interceptor missiles were launched following an initial assessment that two incoming Syrian SS-21 rockets would hit the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. When Israeli sensors realized they would land on the Syrian side, David’s Sling was given an abort order for the interceptors to self-destruct in mid-air.

David’s Sling is jointly manufactured by Israel and the U.S. firm Raytheon. Asked if the United States was apprised of the incident, the source said: “I’m sure that will happen in the future, as there are joint interests.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s offer to keep Iranian forces 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the border, Reuters reported, citing an Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said that Netanyahu told Lavrov: “We will not allow the Iranians to establish themselves even 100 kilometers from the border.”

Israel had previously rejected a Russian proposal that Iranian forces be kept 80 kilometers from the frontier, according to Israeli officials.

Before his meeting with Lavrov, Netanyahu said he would tell the Russian envoys that “Israel insists on the separation of forces agreement between us and Syria being honored, as they were honored for decades until the civil war in Syria broke out.”

The prime minister also reaffirmed “Israel will continue to act against any attempt by Iran and its proxies to entrench militarily in Syria.”

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