Israeli military has shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22M4 attack aircraft after it reportedly entered Israeli airspace on Tuesday afternoon.
According to the reports, the pilot of the aircraft, Colonel Omran Mari, was killed in the incident.
The statement from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) didn’t identify the fighter jet but said that it was either a Sukhoi Su-22 or a Su-24. But, multiple Syrian sources confirmed that it was a Su-22M4 aircraft, a variant of the Russian-made Sukhoi Su-17 “Fitter”.
“Today, a Syrian Air Force Sukhoi Su-22/24 fighter jet infiltrated about 1 mile into Israeli airspace before it was shot down after the IDF launched two Patriot missiles. The Syrian fighter jet fell in Syria, however there are no reports of what happened to the Syrian pilot”, said the IDF statement.
The statement added that the fighter jet departed from the T-4 Airbase in Syria and then flew towards Israel at a high speed and noted that this happened after hours of increased internal fighting in Syria and increased Syrian Air Force activity.
“We issued warnings and messages through different channels, in various languages, numerous times over the day to avoid any misunderstandings or any violations of Israeli airspace. We have continued to deliver messages through various channels, including through the UN, UNDOF, and we will not tolerate any violation of the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement. We hold the Syrian Regime accountable for any such violations coming from the Syrian side,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, Head of the International and Social Media Branch.
According to the IDF statement, on July 13th, a Syrian UAV was shot down by a Patriot missile after flying in the demilitarized zone. Earlier this year, on February 10th, the IDF intercepted an alleged Iranian UAV, which was reportedly launched from Syria.
In response, the IDF struck several Syrian Air Force (SyAAF) and Iranian military targets in Syria. While the IDF struck these targets, the Syrian Air Force shot several missiles and hit an Israeli Air Force F-16, severely injuring the pilot.
According to the Syrian account of the incident, the aircraft was conducting operations against ISIS in the southern part of the country. From mid-2012, in the Syrian civil war, Syrian Air Force Su-22s have been involved in combat operations against Syrian insurgents. Like other SyAAF fixed wing aircraft, videos showed Su-22s using unguided munitions, mostly general purpose bombs, cluster bombs and incendiary bombs and unguided rockets.
This is the second Syrian Su-22 shot down by a foreign force. On 18 June 2017, a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter aircraft engaged and shot down a SyAAF Su-22 for dropping munitions on US-backed forces; according to the wingman of the Super Hornet that made the kill, the Syrian pilot was able to eject. Syria claimed that the aircraft was conducting operations against ISIS in the eastern part of the country.
The first confirmed loss of a SyAAF Su-22 was recorded on 14 February 2013, when rebel forces shot it down using a man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS).