With the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen on the ground in northern Syria, audience attentions have been focused on that region where, according to the corporation’s reports, the ceasefire which came into effect on the evening of September 12th is “largely holding“. However, another front is currently rather less quiet.
Throughout the past week or so, multiple incidents of mortar fire from Syria into the Israeli Golan have taken place – attributed to spill-over from the heavy fighting between opposition groups and regime forces and their supporters near the border which continued under the terms of the ceasefire agreement.
On September 13th, after Israel responded to one of the incidents of cross-border mortar fire, the Syrian regime claimed to have shot down two Israeli aircraft. That claim was swiftly refuted by the IDF.
“The statement from the Syrian army said one aircraft was downed over the skies of the Syrian town of Quneitra, near the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, and the other, a drone, was shot down closer to Damascus.
“Our air defenses blocked the attack and shot down the military aircraft in (the southern province of) Quneitra and a drone west of Sa’sa” in the province of Damascus, said the statement carried by state news agency SANA.
The alleged achievement was highlighted widely in Syrian state media.
The IDF in a statement confirmed it had been shot at, but said aircraft used to target Syrian positions overnight were safe.
“Two surface-to-air missiles were launched from Syria after the mission overnight to target Syrian artillery positions,” an IDF statement said. “At no point was the safety of IDF aircraft compromised.””
The Syrian regime’s claim was the subject of a report – “Syria says it shot down an Israeli airliner and Israel denies” – which appeared on the BBC Arabic website on September 13th. The BBC’s English-speaking audiences, however, have not been informed of that incident or the recent tension-raising uptick in cross-border mortar fire from Syria into Israel.