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In Major Shift, Russian Forces Reportedly Open Fire on Israeli Pilots in Syria


JERUSALEM, Israel – Russian forces opened fire on Israeli fighter jets while they were allegedly carrying out airstrikes in Syria last week, Israel’s Channel 13 News reported on Monday.

According to the channel, the incident happened on Friday as Israeli pilots attacked Iranian-linked targets in southwestern Syria. Russian forces reportedly opened fire on the pilots using advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.

Syrian state media said Israeli missiles targeted the town of Masyaf during the alleged airstrikes, killing five people – including a civilian – and injuring seven others. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said the Israeli fighter jets hit weapons depots and sites belonging to Iranian militias during Friday’s airstrikes.

According to Channel 13, Russia fired at the Israeli jets as they were leaving the area and did not present a real threat to the pilots.

If confirmed, this incident could mark a significant shift in Moscow’s attitude towards Jerusalem. Historically, Israel has had strong ties with Russia and coordinates with Moscow on airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria.

Russia is a close ally of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and operates inside the war-torn country. Israel rarely ever acknowledges its activity in Syria but views Iranian activity there as a major national security threat.

Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, its traditionally strong ties with Israel have deteriorated as Jerusalem attempts to walk a diplomatic tightrope between the two warring countries. Initially, Israel avoided directly condemning Moscow but voiced support for Ukraine. 

However, Israel’s Foreign Ministry later accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine after reports emerged of atrocities there. Ties deteriorated even further after Russia’s foreign minister made anti-Semitic remarks and invoked the Holocaust to falsely accuse the Ukrainian government of being run by neo-Nazis.

Israeli defense officials did not directly comment on the reported airstrikes in Syria last week. However, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday that Israel would continue working to deter Iranian activities in Syria.

“The State of Israel will continue to act against any enemy that threatens it, and prevent the transfer of advanced capabilities from Iran that endanger the citizens of Israel and harm the stability of the entire region,” Gantz said.

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