Syria: Air defenses fired at Israeli aircraft over our airspace
Syrian air defenses opened fire on IAF aircraft that violated Syrian airspace overnight Thursday, a Syrian military spokesman said.
"We warn the Israeli enemy government against this flagrant aggressive act, and retain the right to respond in an appropriate way," the Syrian spokesman said.
Syrian officials reported that four or five IAF aircraft broke the sound barrier and dropped fuel tanks over deserted areas of northern Syria, along its border with Turkey.
It was not clear if Syria was accusing the Israelis of using warplanes or some type of other aircraft like drones.
"The Israeli enemy aircraft infiltrated into the Arab Syrian territory through the northern border, coming from the Mediterranean heading toward the eastern region, breaking the sound barrier," the spokesman said.
"Air defense units confronted them and forced them to leave after they dropped some ammunition in deserted areas without causing any human or material damage," he added.
The IDF said that it was "not accustomed to responding to such reports."
Syrian Cabinet Minister Buthaina Shaaban, speaking on Al-Jazeera television's English service, would not confirm that Israel had attacked Syria, but did say the aircraft violated the country's airspace.
"We are a sovereign country. They cannot do that," said Shaaban.
The Syrian military spokesman did not specify whether the military used surface-to-air missiles or anti-aircraft artillery when confronting the aircraft.
"We warn the Israeli enemy government against this flagrant aggressive act, and retain the right to respond in an appropriate way," the Syrian spokesman said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.
Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said the government was "seriously studying the nature of the response," but refused to indicate in an interview with Al-Jazeera whether the reaction would be on the military or diplomatic level. He would not give any more details about the incident, but said it proved Israel's policies are based on hostility.
"Israel in fact does not want peace," said Bilal. "It cannot survive without aggression, treachery and military messages."
He said recent US aid of $30 billion over 10 years to Israel encouraged its government to "such arrogance that it delivered this morning message."
Israel acknowledges flying over Lebanon routinely, but it is unclear how often its aircraft fly over Syria, if at all.
Syrian officials, including President Bashar Assad, have repeatedly warned Israel in recent weeks that the occupation of the Golan Heights "cannot last forever."
Concerns grew over the summer that tensions along the frontier could escalate into conflict, but both Syrian and Israeli officials publicly and repeatedly said they had no interest in war.
Thursday's incident could stoke the tensions again, however. Late last month, Israeli security officials said the army had determined that war with Syria, whose military had reduced its war readiness, was unlikely and Israel began rotating forces out of the Israeli-held Golan Heights.
Syria also is believed unhappy that other Arab countries are headed to a peace meeting in November at which the United States hopes for a high-profile meeting between the Palestinians and Israelis, and perhaps also with Saudi officials.
Syria has long disputed any notion that a comprehensive Arab peace deal can be reached unless it also involves some resolution of the Golan Heights, which it wants back in full.
At the beginning of last summer's war against Lebanon, Israeli warplanes buzzed the palace of Syrian President Bashar Assad in what analysts called a warning to Damascus.
In June of the same year, they also flew over Assad's summer home in the coastal city of Latakia, after Syrian-backed Palestinian combatants in Gaza kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit.
planes had "dropped ammunition" over desert areas of Syria, before
being forced to leave, according to the official Syrian news agency,
Israel radio quoted an unnamed Israeli army source as saying no air strike had been carried out, Reuters agency said.
The Syrian news agency says the action took place "without causing human or material loss".
Syria and Israel have remained technically at war since the seizure of the Golan Heights in 1967.
Tensions between Israeli and Syria have been rising in recent
months. Both countries' leaders have said they do not want a war, while
accusing the other side of arming for a conflict.
Syria says it last fired at Israeli warplanes in June 2006, when
Israeli aircraft flew over the summer residence of the Syrian
president, while he was inside.