By Paul Mulholland
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened to destroy Syria’s air defense systems on Sunday, March 19, CNN reported.
This threat came after an air raid in which the Syrian military fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli warplanes, according to CNN.
Israeli jets targeted weapons being transferred to Hezbollah, an Iranian supported Shia militia based in Lebanon that supports Syrian president Assad, Al-Monitor, a Middle Eastern news source, reported.
The air raid took place near Palmyra, Syria, according to Reuters.
Russian special forces are believed to be operating alongside the Syrian army, the same source reported.
Israel has bombed certain weapon transfers to Hezbollah within Syria in the past, and Syria has responded with anti-aircraft fire. In past instances, however, Israel never formally acknowledged the operation and did not issue a threat as Liberman did, Al-Monitor reported.
The Syrian military claims to have shot down one of four of the Israeli planes, although Israel disputes this claim, according to The Guardian.
Israel said its air missile defense system, known as Arrow, intercepted a Syrian anti-aircraft missile and that all its planes returned safely, The Guardian reported.
Following Lieberman’s threat to destroy Syria’s air defenses, an Israeli airstrike killed Yasser al-Sayed, a Druze militia leader allied with Assad, in the Syrian Golan Heights, according to al-Monitor.
Details of al-Sayed’s identity are yet to be confirmed.
Reports suggest that Assayed may also have been a Syrian air defense officer who was planning attacks on Israel, according to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper.
Russia, which supplies Syria’s air defense systems, summoned Israeli ambassador Gary Koren to Moscow to discuss the incident, according to CNN.