Israel's minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, has warned the Syrian government against launching ground-to-air missiles at Israeli warplanes carrying out strikes inside Syria, threatening to destroy Syrian air defense systems.
“The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” Lieberman said on Israeli Public Radio on Sunday.
He added that the Israeli military will target any convoy of missiles or weapons destined for the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.
“The Syrians must understand that they are held responsible for these arms transfers to Hezbollah and that if they continue to allow them then we will do what we have to do,” Lieberman pointed out.
The remarks came two days after the Syrian army announced in a statement that four Israeli fighter jets had violated the Arab country’s airspace, adding its air defense had shot down one of the military aircraft and hit another.
The Israeli warplanes entered the Syrian skies at 2:40 a.m. local time (0040 GMT) on Friday via Lebanese territory, and hit a target on the way to the ancient Semitic city of Palmyra.
"Our air defense engaged them and shot down one warplane over occupied territory, hit another one, and forced the rest to flee," the Syrian army said, apparently referring to the Golan Heights.
The Syrian army also slammed Tel Aviv’s strikes as “an act of aggression” meant to assist the Takfiri Daesh terror group.
Israel’s aerial assaults are “a desperate attempt to raise their (Daesh terrorists') deteriorating morale and divert attention away from the victories which Syrian Arab Army is making in the face of the terrorist organizations,” the statement read.
On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli regime will continue to conduct military attacks against Hezbollah targets inside Syria.
“When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah and we have intelligence and it is operationally feasible, we act to prevent it,” Netanyahu alleged. “That’s how it was yesterday and that’s how we shall continue to act.”
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
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