27 Islamic terrorists now being trained at Balakot for attack on India

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

27 terrorists now being trained at Balakot for attack on India, says Intel

According to the counterterror operatives, out of the 27, eight are from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. They are being trained by two instructors from Punjab, Pakistan and three from Afghanistan.

INDIA Updated: Feb 07, 2020 08:20 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The camp, targeted by the IAF as a reprisal for the suicide bombing in Pulwama by a Jaish terrorist, and also to prevent further attacks against India, is currently headed by Yusuf Azhar, kin of Maulana Masood Azhar
The camp, targeted by the IAF as a reprisal for the suicide bombing in Pulwama by a Jaish terrorist, and also to prevent further attacks against India, is currently headed by Yusuf Azhar, kin of Maulana Masood Azhar(ANI )

The Balakot camp of terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), targeted by India in an air strike last February, is active again and currently training 27 terrorists, with the plan being to use them to launch terror attacks in India, intelligence and counterterror operatives said.

The camp, targeted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a reprisal for the suicide bombing in Pulwama by a Jaish terrorist, and also to prevent further attacks against India, is currently headed by Yusuf Azhar, kin of Maulana Masood Azhar, and is currently providing terror training to 27 extremists for launching attacks against India.

According to the counterterror operatives, out of the 27, eight are from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. They are being trained by two instructors from Punjab, Pakistan and three from Afghanistan. The operatives, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the intelligence at their disposal suggests that the training will be completed within this week, after which the terrorists will be ready for insertion into India. At the time when India launched strikes at Balakot, there were no less than 300 terrorists being trained there, according to the operatives.

The preparations for the terror offensive come even as around 40 JeM functionaries including Abdul Rauf were arrested on January 22, as part of Pakistan’s compliance with the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental agency which combats money-laundering and terror financing. Even as Rawalpindi GHQ does this, the Indian operatives say, it may also launch a full-fledged information campaign to actually project the February 26, 2019, Indian Air Force strike at Balakot as a victory for the Imran Khan regime.

According to them, the aim of such a campaign would be to boost public confidence in the political and military leadership, lift the morale of Kashmiris, counter the Indian narrative on both Balakot and Kashmir, and present India internationally as a threat to global peace and security.

The fact is that Pakistan’s terror factory is alive and kicking with no less than 32 foreign terrorists belonging to both JeM and fellow jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba being gunned down by Indian security forces from January 1, 2019, to January 31 this year. Three LeT terrorists were apprehended and no less than 102 Pakistani terrorists are still active in Kashmir valley, the Indian officials added. Available records show that out of 102, 59 belong to LeT, 37 to JeM and 6 to Hizbul Mujahideen.

Yet the Pakistani narrative is designed to establish that Balakot was a victory for Islamabad as the military shot down an Indian MiG-21 Bison fighter and captured Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The Imran Khan government is expected to use the media to propagate that Pakistan is all for peace but ready for war. The propaganda is designed to convey that the Pakistani leadership was strong as it “defeated” India in battlefield and at global forums. And it will use the wing commander’s return to substantiate its claims that it did so out of a desire for peace and from a position of strength.

The officials said that Islamabad was forced to hand over Abhinandan after India signalled its readiness to follow up with a missile strike.

Interestingly, the officials said that the Imran Khan government will also try to highlight that for the first time India was brought under international pressure over Kashmir, despite Islamabad’s continued failure to do so at the United Nations.

23 killed as Israeli strikes in Syria, 16 of them likely Iranian

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

23 killed as Israeli strikes in Syria, 16 of them likely Iranian – war monitor

Identities of foreigners killed in attacks not immediately confirmed; Russia denounces Israeli strikes, calling them a ‘wrong move’

An Israeli M109 self-propelled howitzer is stationed near the border with Syria in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on November 19, 2019, after Israeli air defenses intercepted four rockets fired from neighboring Syria. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)

An Israeli M109 self-propelled howitzer is stationed near the border with Syria in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on November 19, 2019, after Israeli air defenses intercepted four rockets fired from neighboring Syria. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)

At least 23 “fighters” were killed in Israel’s predawn airstrikes in Syria Wednesday, 16 of them likely Iranians, according to a Syrian war monitor.

The Israel Defense Forces launched the strikes against Iranian and Syrian targets around the capital of Damascus and on the Syrian Golan Heights in response to a Tuesday morning rocket attack.

The military said it targeted dozens of sites connected to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, including a facility at the Damascus International Airport, which Israel says was used to coordinate the transport of military hardware from Iran to Syria and on to other countries in the region.

“We struck a building staffed by Iranians at the Damascus airport. We assess that there are Iranians killed and injured,” a Israeli senior defense official said Wednesday, on condition of anonymity.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a damaged building targeted by Israeli missile strikes is seen in Qudsaya suburb, western the capital Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (SANA via AP)

Israel also targeted a number of Quds Force facilities on Syrian military bases. When Syrian air defenses fired on Israeli jets, the IDF also targeted those batteries, the army said.

A large explosion is seen over the Damascus skyline in footage purportedly taken on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, November 20, 2019 (video screenshot)

Israel has repeatedly warned Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to not intervene during IDF strikes on Iranian targets in his country or else his military will also be targeted, as was the case Wednesday.

According to the Britain-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 23 people were killed in the strike, and 16 of them were foreigners. Though presumed to be Iranian, that could not be immediately confirmed by SOHR.

Four civilians were wounded, the monitor said.

Video footage from Syria appeared to show a Syrian air defense missile crashing to the ground in a heavily populated area shortly after launching, which may account for some of the casualties.

Russia on Wednesday condemned Israel for the strikes. Moscow backs the Assad government and has criticized previous Israeli strikes in the country, especially those that target Syrian military bases in addition to Iranian facilities.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said the strikes were a “wrong move” that is in “stark contrast” to international law, Interfax reported.

He added that Moscow had reached out to its allies regarding the incident, the report said.

On Wednesday morning, the IDF said it had coordinated its airstrikes with Russia.

Following its reprisal raids, the Israeli military said it was preparing for a potential Iranian retaliation.

“We are preparing for defense and attack, and we will respond to any attempt to retaliate,” IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman told reporters first thing Wednesday morning.

“We are ready for three scenarios: no response, a minor response, and a more significant response,” he said.

Israel has repeatedly said that it will not accept Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and that it will retaliate for any attack on the Jewish state from Syria.

Zilberman said the military targeted both “the host, Syria, and the guest, Iran.”

“Our message to the leaders of Iranian is simple: You are not immune anymore. Wherever you send your octopus arms — we will hack them off,” said newly installed Defense Minister Naftali Bennett.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the strike: “I have made clear that any who attack us, we will attack them. That is what we did tonight toward military targets of the Iranian Quds Force and Syrian military targets.”

Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. (YouTube screenshot)

The Quds Force, led by Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, is a part of the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards Corps responsible for extraterritorial operations, and is a key actor in Syria — both against rebels and in Tehran’s efforts to entrench itself along Israel’s border and threaten the Jewish state from there.

Early Tuesday morning Israel’s anti-missile defense system intercepted four rockets fired from Syria toward the Golan Heights.

The rockets triggered sirens in the northern Golan Heights and Galilee region at 4:52 a.m., sending residents rushing to bomb shelters.

Last week Syrian state media reported that an Israeli strike hit the home of a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist in Damascus, Akram al-Ajouri, killing his son and another person. Islamic Jihad accused Israel of being behind the strike in Damascus. The Israeli army refused to comment.

On the same day, an Israeli airstrike killed Islamic Jihad military commander Baha Abu Al-Ata, whom Israel blamed for recent rocket fire into its territory, in a strike on his home in Gaza City. Around 450 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the military operation against Abu Al-Ata, according to the Israeli army, as the military struck back at Islamic Jihad targets. A ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad was reached after 50 hours of clashes.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets over the last several years, but does not generally comment on specific attacks. Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel’s northern neighbor, and supports Hezbollah and Gaza terrorists.

In August, in a rare announcement, the IDF said it had targeted sites in the town of Aqrabah, southeast of Damascus, near the city’s airport to foil what it said was an imminent armed drone attack on Israel by Iran-backed fighters.

In January Israel was said to have conducted a daylight missile attack on Iranian targets at the airport. Iran responded by firing a surface-to-surface missile at the northern Golan Heights, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system over the Mount Hermon ski resort, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.

JOIN US!
A MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR OF TIMES OF ISRAEL
DAVID HOROVITZ

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We’ve achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

BECOME A MEMBER OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL COMMUNITY
READ MORE:
COMMENTS

India: Jaish facility in Balakot bombed by IAF jets in February is fully functional again

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Jaish facility in Balakot bombed by IAF jets in February is fully functional again

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

INDIA Updated: Sep 22, 2019 10:28 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Picture of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility destroyed by Indian Ar Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019.
Picture of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility destroyed by Indian Ar Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019. (Photo: ANI)

Almost seven months after Indian Air Force jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist facility in Pakistan’s Balakot, the globally proscribed group has revived the complex, where it is training 40 jihadists to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India, in the garb of a new name to avoid international scrutiny, HT has learnt.

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

Islamabad relaxed restrictions over terror groups targeting India after August 5, when the Indian government pushed through the moves on Kashmir, and on the eve of the “Leaders dialogue on strategic responses to terrorism and violent extremism” at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak at the conference, followed by Microsoft Corp CEO Satya Nadella and others.

On February 27, IAF fighters flew deep into Pakistan to bomb the Markaz Syed Ahmad Shaheed facility at Balakot in Manshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in reprisal for a February 14 suicide car bombing in J&K’s Pulwama that killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force in the deadliest single attack in 30 years of insurgency. Tensions between the subcontinental neighbours escalated as a result.

According to Indian counter-terror operatives, anti-India terror groups that have kept a low profile following Pulwama and its aftermath were reactivated after August 5 with JeM operational commander Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar meeting his handlers in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, the very next day in Rawalpindi to formulate a jihadist response to the Indian moves on Kashmir.

Intelligence inputs indicate that JeM may target not only Jammu and Kashmir but also Gujarat and Maharashtra under a new name to avoid international scrutiny. Pakistan-based terror groups have been asked to use Kashmiri- origin terrorists and,in this context, are also reviving dormant groups like the Al Umnar Mujahideen led by Mushtaq Zargar alias Latram.

Pakistan watchers say that the Jaish has started advanced “daura tarbiya” courses for 50 jihadists in Markaz Subhan Allah and Markaz Usman-o-Ali in Bahawalpur, with the Peshawar and Jamrud facilities also being activated for action in Kashmir. Daurya tarbiya is a religious programme designed to radicalise a recipient and a precursor to weapons and subversive training.

Refresher courses have been started by the terror group in its camps in Manshera, Gulpur and Kotli with the Balakot facility being reactivated for jihad training for the first time after the Indian air strike. The reactivation of the Balakot facility has been confirmed by the Indian national security establishment and the highest levels of government have been informed.

While Jaish has intensified its recruitment drive for Kashmir action in places like Charsada, Mardan and Swabi of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , the terror group, headed by the now terminally ill global terrorist Masood Azhar, has decided to divert its cadre from the Afghanistan front to J&K in a phased manner.

According to intelligence reports, around 100 Jaish cadre are waiting at launch pads across the Poonch and Rajouri sectors at Neelum/Leepa Valley with the focus of planned attacks on Jammu and not Srinagar. Inputs reveal that Mufti Asghar on August 11 itself had instructed his cadre in Sialkot to focus on the army cantonment in Jammu as well as security force convoys plying on the national highway.

“We have reports about Jaish fidayeen (suicide attackers) waiting for lifting of full telecom restrictions in the state to infiltrate and launch attacks,” said a national security official on condition of anonymity.

In Jaish’s Madina Madina fortnightly magazine, Talha Saif, on behalf of Masood Azhar, criticised the leaders of some Muslim countries for coming under the influence of the United States, and simultaneously urged Indian Muslims to rise against the Narendra Modi government.

Rawalpindi’s other terror arm, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) , has reactivated its terror camps post the revocation of Article 370, including aquatic facilities at Mangla in Mirpur and Head Maral in Sialkot while its leader Hafeez Saeed is in custody in Lahore.

According to available inputs, Lashkar has started a two-month-long refresher course at its Manshera camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while its second line leadership, led by Saeed’s son Talha, is advocating jihad in Kashmir through sermons and video messages.

The third group, Hizbul Mujahideen, has also been activated after its leaders met ISI handlers on August 26 and tasked with infiltrating its cadre across the Gurez sector.

First Published: Sep 22, 2019 04:45 I ST

India: India rethinks buying US armed drones

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

India rethinks buying US armed drones

The Indian Air Force has raised concerns about an armed drone surviving in a contested air space like PoK or along the LAC.

INDIA Updated: Jul 28, 2019 07:14 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
New Delhi
IAF,Indian airforce,India
This undated US Air Force file photo released on June 20, 2019 shows a photo of a RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. – A US spy drone was some 34 kilometers (21 miles) from the nearest point in Iran when it was shot down over the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian surface-to-air missile June 20, 2019.(AFP)

Last month’s downing of the US Global Hawk drone by Iran in the Persian Gulf has prompted a rethink within the Indian military establishment, led by the air force, over the acquisition of American-made armed drones on account of their cost and questions over their survivability.

India’s three services had planned to buy 30 drones from the US at a cost of $6 billion. While the tri-services have not yet approached the defence minister for “acceptance of necessity,” or AoN, to procure the drones, the plans were for the air force and the army to acquire 10 Predator-B drones each and the navy to buy long-distance surveillance versions.

According to the military brass, the IAF has internally raised questions about an armed drone surviving in a contested air space like over Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) or along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) — the disputed de facto border between India and China — with both potential adversaries equipped with top of the line surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems .

“The armed drone has been successfully used by US in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria as the skies are dominated by their air force. Pakistan is the only country that has counter-capabilities but will think 100 times before it decides to take a US drone down by a SAM or beyond visual range air-to-air missile,” said a senior military commander on condition of anonymity.

The US’s top of the line RQ-4 Global Hawk was shot down by Iran’s S-300 missile system on June 20 in Persian Gulf airspace.

The rethink on US drones has nothing to do with US President Donald Trump’s Kashmir recent mediation faux pas; the Narendra Modi government has decided to cut out the Trump noise over Kashmir and concentrate on building India-US ties for times to come.

Trump said after meeting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan earlier this month that Modi had asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue — a claim India immediately and firmly denied.

The other significant reason behind the Indian rethink is the prohibitive price of armed drones like the Predator-B. According to the military establishment, the cost of a bare drone platform will be to the tune of $100 million and a full complement of weapons like laser-guided bombs or hell-fire missiles will cost another $100 million.

“This means that an armed drone with full complement of weapons will be more expensive than Rafael multi-role fighter with all weapons and missiles on board. Under the circumstances, the IAF will give preference to acquiring more multi-role fighters with long-range air-to-air missiles and the Indian army will be looking towards replacing its dated T-72 tanks. The Indian navy needs more surface combatants at sea rather than an armed drone for projecting itself as an Indo-Pacific power,” said a senior South Block official.

After the shooting down of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s MiG-21 fighter by a Pakistani F-16 in an aerial skirmish on February 27 in the Rajouri sector, the air force has become interested in longer-range air-to-air missiles and the army wants equipment for its battle groups like tanks and howitzers for a faster response to the western adversary.

When asked to comment on the drone acquisition plans, a senior defence ministry official said, requesting anonymity, that a decision on whether or not to acquire armed drone from the US or any other country will only be taken once the three services approach the government with a proposal.

First Published: Jul 28, 2019 07:12 IST

Post-Balakot, Pakistan Scrambled Jets From 8 Bases. Ws 10 Minutes Late: IAF Report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Post-Balakot, Pakistan scrambled jets from 8 bases. Was 10 minutes late: IAF report

The assessment has revealed several positives, but because “no battle plan ever survives the first contact with the enemy”, there were also deviations from the plan, and some outright negatives too.

INDIA Updated: Apr 25, 2019 09:33 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Balakot airstrikes,Balakot,IAF
The report, a detailed assessment of the positives and negatives of the operation, to be used as a reference for future operations, was discussed at a high-level meeting of IAF recently(PTI/ Representative Image)

 “The strategic-surprise” of the Balakot airstrikes by the Indian Air Force in the Khyber Phaktunwa region of Pakistan on February 26 was “complete and total” despite Pakistan being on high alert, according to a report on “the lessons learnt” from the operation, which also mentions that five of the six designated targets were hit, the first official acknowledgement of the number of targets.

The report, a detailed assessment of the positives and negatives of the operation, to be used as a reference for future operations, was discussed at a high-level meeting of IAF recently.

On February 26, in response to a suicide bombing attack by a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, that killed 40 troopers, and to pre-empt more such attacks, IAF struck a training camp of the Pakistan-based JeM in Balakot. There’s been a lot of discussion and debate on the attack, including on the damage inflicted, but the report marks the first time IAF discussed the operation’s effectiveness.

Also Watch | ‘They want to be Pak’s heroes’: Modi’s jibe at Balakot air strike ‘doubters’

‘They want to be Pak’s heroes’: Modi’s jibe at Balakot air strike ‘doubters’
Amid his re-election campaign ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoked the air strikes against terrorists in Pakistan’s Balakot and criticised those who sought proof.
Play

Unmute

Current Time 0:00
Duration 2:35
Loaded: 19.36%

Fullscreen

The assessment has revealed several positives, but because “no battle plan ever survives the first contact with the enemy”, there were also deviations from the plan, and some outright negatives too.

The mission “was accomplished” because of “redundancies” built into the plan, the report, a copy of which has been reviewed by HT, says.

The Positives

The “strategic surprise” was so complete that only after IAF’s Mirage-2000s delivered the weapons package and turned back did Pakistan scramble jets from “as many as eight fighter bases”. These included the Pakistan Air Force base Mushaf in Sargoda, Rafiqui in Shorkot, Minhas in Kamra Attock, and Murid in Chakwal. “But the distance between PAF and IAF fighters was at least 10 minutes,” a senior officer in the security establishment said on condition of anonymity.

“Pakistan was expecting a response, but from the PAF response it appears it did not expect us to take the aerial route,” the officer added.

The “accuracy” of intelligence and the subsequent target selection is one of the positives the report talks about. “With this quality of intelligence, we can hit any target inside Pakistan within three hours,” a second senior security establishment official said, asking not to be named.

Among the other positives, the report lists the proficiency and skills of pilots who flew the mission, and describes them as “top class”. Keeping in the tradition of IAF, the Commanding Officers (CO) of the respective squadrons flew the mission. All pilots who flew the mission are likely to be awarded for their skill and ability.

Importantly, although nearly 6,000 men and officers of IAF were involved in the execution – aircraft flew from different airbases spread across India – there were “no leakages”.

Deception at the strategic and tactical level deceived Pakistan, the report says. While Chief of Air Staff BS Dhanoa and the top echelon of IAF went about normal duties — including attending conferences, banquets, and addressing Defence Attaché’s, so-called Combat Air Patrols along the border areas — before the strike lulled Pakistan to some extent.

Importantly, during the attack, a strike-element of Russian made Su-30s flying towards Bahawalpur, Pakistan, where the JeM is based, forced the neighbouring country to divert its energies and air defence capabilities in a separate sector.

Finally, the accuracy of the weapons have also come in for praise in the report. IAF used Spice 2000 precision guided munitions (PGM) to hit the target, among others. “Five of the six designated targets” inside the Jaish-e- Mohammed (JeM) training camp in Balakot were hit directly, the assessment report has concluded.

The Negatives

Cloud cover and weather conditions did create problems for the fighter fleet, the report says. Importantly, the entire weapons package — apart from the Spice 2000 — carried by the IAF fleet wasn’t delivered, leading to questions about to weapon to target matching. Changes in the software made to integrate new weapon systems with vintage Mirage aircraft didn’t completely work.

IAF use indigenous skills to integrate the new weapons systems. “The Balakot experience underlines integration of new weapons with platforms should be done by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) despite the cost involved,” said a senior official aware of the assessment, who did not want to be named.

The other “negative” listed in the report is in the politico-strategic domain. IAF, when planning the attack, gave priority to eliminating the maximum number of terrorists at the JeM facility. It chose Spice 2000 – a penetration smart bomb – over a fragmentation weapon. The former penetrates structures killing everyone inside whereas the latter flattens and demolishes structures.

“When questions were raised about the strike, especially internationally, IAF didn’t have much by way of pictures to show as evidence making it easy for Pakistan to deny the attack itself,” a third senior officer in the security establishment said, asking not to be identified.

Recommendations

Looking ahead and taking the lessons from the Balakot strike, IAF wants more “technological asymmetry” to be able to “penetrate the enemy airspace at will”, according to the report. It will be looking at better air defence capabilities. The induction of new platforms such as the Russian made S-400 surface to air anti-aircraft missile systems will fill part of the gap.

According to a former senior air force official, India should concentrate on absorbing more defence technology. “Technological asymmetry will always give you an edge over the enemy. However, if the OEM [original equipment manufacturer, or the supplier] is the same on either, it could create difficulties,” said former Air Vice Marshal Sunil Jayant Nanodkar.

“We achieved complete surprise and the mission was successful. It highlights the need to give forces the freedom to execute a political decision. The execution of a political decision should be at choosing of the forces,” he added.

First Published: Apr 25, 2019 07:29 IST

India Proves That Pakistan F-16 Was Shot Down: Pakistan Caught Lying Again!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

IAF goes public with radar images to rebut Pakistan over F-16 shot down by India

The IAF said there was more credible evidence available to establish that Pakistan Air Force had lost one F-16 in the air action.

INDIA Updated: Apr 08, 2019 19:51 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pakistan air force,Pak air force,F-16
Air Vice Marshal Kapoor said the AWACS radar image of the engagement area west of the Line of Control opposite Jhangar clearly establishes that there were a bunch of F-16s opposite Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.(Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

The Indian Air Force on Monday released radar images to rebut Pakistan’s claim that it hadn’t lost a US-manufactured F-16 fighter jet in the February 27 dogfight. The IAF said there was more credible evidence available to establish that Pakistan Air Force had lost one F-16 in the air action.

But the IAF is restricting the information being shared in public domain due to security and confidentiality concerns, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations) said.

Officials said the Air Force also had evidence in the form of radio-telephony intercepts of the Pakistan Air Force F-16 strike package and ground wireless intercepts but would not place this evidence in public domain due to security and confidentiality concerns.

‘Radar image proof that Abhinandan downed Pak F16’: IAF counters Pakistan
Days after Pakistan sought to assert that the Indian Air Force hadn’t shot down one of its F16 fighter aircraft, the IAF released radar images as proof to expose the neighbouring nation’s claims.
Play

Unmute

Current Time 0:14
Duration 0:51
Loaded: 100.00%

Fullscreen

The fact is that the IAF had achieved its objectives of successfully striking the Balakot camp and thwarting the retaliatory PAF attack against Indian military installations that followed on February 27, Air Vice Marshal Kapoor said.

The AWACS radar image of the engagement area west of the Line of Control opposite Jhangar clearly establishes that there were a bunch of F-16s opposite Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. In a second image taken 10 seconds later, one of the F-16s disappeared.

“That’s the F-16 the PAF lost,” the IAF officer said.

It is believed to have been the first ever kill of an F-16 by a MiG-21 Bison, fighter jets of two different generations.

Also Read | ‘Over in 90 seconds’: Officers detail India, Pakistan air duel along border

Pakistan had, however, insisted that the PAF did not lose any fighter jet in the engagement over the skies of Nowshera in Rajouri district of Jammu Province, the first aerial dogfight between the two air forces since the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Islamabad had also insisted that it did not use the US-made F-16 combat jets in the February 27 air action.

Last week, however, there was a shift in Islamabad’s stand when Pakistan military said it had the right to use any aircraft for its self-defence. Prior to this statement, Islamabad had claimed that it had only used JF-17 Thunder jets, developed jointly with China, in the February 27 engagement with India and that its aircraft had shot down two Indian Air Force jets. India contested both points, saying it lost only one MiG-21 and that an F-16 was shot down.

In the new statement, Pakistan military arm’s media wing said it was “immaterial” whether F-16s or JF-17s were used. It described the events of February 27 as “part of history now” and said no Pakistani F-16 “was hit by the Indian Air Force”.

A report in the Foreign Policy magazine, however, waded into the row last week when it claimed that US defence personnel had recently conducted a physical count of Pakistan’s F-16s and found none missing. The US defence ministry spokesperson, however, told Hindustan Times that the department wasn’t “aware of any investigation like that”.

First Published: Apr 08, 2019 18:03 IST

Israel’s Liberman Has It All Wrong About Hamas

 

Israel’s Liberman Has It All Wrong About Hamas

 

A couple of days ago Israel’s Defense Minister Liberman asked the government for permission to strike Hamas “hard” when, not if, but when the next war brakes out with the Rulers of the Gaza Strip. Mr. Liberman said that he wanted to strike a decisive blow against Hamas so that there could be at least a four or five-year lull in Hamas offensives against the Israeli people. To this statement of Mr. Liberman I have to say, sir, you have got it all wrong and I will get to my reasoning in just a moment. If you would like to you can find this information of which I am writing about in the past two days articles from the “Times Of Israel.”

 

Yesterday one of Hamas’s rockets that they tend to fire off into Israel daily hit an Israeli home and last night Israeli jets struck several Hamas targets in the Conclave. Israel said that one Palestinian was killed and seven wounded in Israel’s return fire. Hamas says that about 25 were killed and another fifty or so were wounded, and of course Hamas says that a great number of the dead were children on their way to school. Every day since March 30th of this year Hamas has staged a violent confrontation at the Border Fence with Israel during their so call march of return. For the past several months these demonstrators have been sending kite bombs into Israel in an attempt to kill and destroy. If any Nation on earth was having to put up with this on their borders any Nation would have long ago reacted violently and decisively against these act of war that Hamas has been guilty of purporting, yet for the sake of the innocent civilians inside the Conclave Israel has stayed their hand. After Israel struck back at Hamas targets yesterday the leaders of Hamas said that Israel was trying to destroy the current truce. To that I say, truce, what truce? Hamas has been breaking that “truce” everyday for at least the past seven months. So I guess what Hamas means by that is a one-sided truce, one where Hamas commits acts of war everyday but where Israel does nothing about it.

 

Now, to the point of my article to you today on why I say that Mr. Liberman has it wrong about how Israel must address Hamas from this point forward. For more than a decade now since the Israeli government gave the Gaza Strip back to the Palestinian people and to a little bit lesser of an extent the West Bank also, these lands have been used for staging grounds for attacks on the people of Israel. Israel gave this land to the Palestinian people in what was supposed to be a “land for peace deal” yet since doing so there has been no peace and the hate groups like Hamas that reside within those lands vow that there will never be any peace with Israel until there is no such thing as a Nation of Israel. In my opinion, Israel must make it very plain to all of the people of the Gaza Strip that all hostilities toward Israel must stop at once. Reality is that the people within the Conclave, even if they themselves do want to have peace and much more freedom, they know that these hate groups will never allow peace. So, Israel must tell everyone in the Gaza Strip that it is up to them if they want to live in peace and the only way to have peace is if every member of Hamas and all of the other terrorist groups are killed by the citizens of the Strip.  It is easy to say that this will never ever happen and I know of only one way where my idea could work. That idea is simple, Israel must let the citizens of the Strip know as an absolute fact that if the violence does not stop at once that when Israel is forced to attack Hamas again that Israel is going to make every possible effort to kill every member of every terrorist group.  Reality is that in doing so that hundreds of thousands of civilians may well be killed also. In other words, if the people of the Strip do not quickly kill all members of these terrorist groups themselves, the Strip is going to be scorched!

The true threat of S-300’s is not that they’re powerful, but that they’re Russian

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

The true threat of S-300s is not that they’re powerful, but that they’re Russian

The Israeli Air Force likely has the means to work around Russian electronic warfare and Syrian air defenses, but doing so risks inflaming the growing Jerusalem-Moscow crisis

Judah Ari Gross
In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, a Russian S-300 air defense system is on display at the opening of the MAKS Air Show in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, Russia (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)

In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, a Russian S-300 air defense system is on display at the opening of the MAKS Air Show in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, Russia (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)

Russia’s announcement on Monday that it would be upgrading Syria’s air defenses with its formidable S-300 system within two weeks marked the latest nadir in Israel’s rapidly spiraling relationship with Moscow since the downing by Syria of a Russian spy plane off the Syrian coast last week.

In addition to supplying Syria with the S-300, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu also said Monday that Russia would “jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aircraft attacking targets in Syria.”

But the greater threat is not the specific tactical hurdle that the system poses for the Israeli Air Force, but rather that this episode could lead to a breakdown of Israel’s relationship with Russia.

Not since the 1960s and 1970’s has Israel had to contend with an antagonistic Moscow actively working against Israeli interests. Though Russia today indeed supplies weapons to many of Israel’s enemies — including S-300 batteries to Israel’s arch-nemesis Iran — the general understanding in Israel is that this isn’t personal, it’s business.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend an event marking International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day and the anniversary of the complete lifting of the Nazi siege of Leningrad, at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow on January 29, 2018. (AFP Photo/Vasily Maximov)

The current crisis has the potential to change that, depending on how it is handled by Israel, Russia and the United States.

Though the actions of Russia are some of the most openly hostile toward Israel since the end of the Cold War, they are still reversible, at least to some degree.

For over five years, Russian has been threatening to sell the S-300 anti-aircraft system to Syria, but has backed off each time at the behest of the Israeli, and sometimes the American, government.

The long-range S-300 — with an operational radius of 250 kilometers (150 miles), according to Russia — is a far more advanced form of the S-200 air defense system that Syria currently employs.

For now, Moscow has said it will supply two to four S-300 batteries to Syria, but is prepared to deliver more if necessary. According to Russian media, the systems will be set up on Syria’s western coast and in its southwest, near the Israeli and Jordanian borders, which are the two areas from which the IAF would be most likely to conduct airstrikes.

Russia has yet to indicate which model of S-300 it intends to sell Syria; there are several, each with its own range of capabilities. Even the lowest quality model’s radar would be able to monitor flights around northern Israel — and potentially civilian flights in and out of Ben Gurion International Airport, depending on where the system is placed in Syria.

The threat of the S-300 and electronic warfare

For Israel, the S-300 would represent a significant but not insurmountable obstacle in Syria, where it routinely bombs Iranian and Hezbollah facilities and weapons caches.

While the S-300, known by NATO as the SA-10, is far more powerful than Syria’s current long-range anti-aircraft system, the S-200 or SA-5, the Israeli Air Force has had decades to prepare for it.

A number of Israeli allies operate the air defense system. The IAF has reportedly trained against S-300 batteries that once belonged to Cyprus, but are now owned by Greece, during joint aerial exercises over the years.

In this August 27, 2013, photo, a Russian air defense system missile system Antey 2500, or S-300 VM, is on display at the opening of the MAKS Air Show in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, file)

Israel is also the proud owner of a growing fleet of F-35 fighter jets, a model whose raison d’être is stealth. These fifth-generation jets have already been used operationally, the IAF said earlier this year.

And the Israeli Air Force is also famed for its own electronic warfare capabilities. Indeed, in the 1982 first Lebanon War, the IAF used radar jamming against Syria’s Soviet-supplied air defenses, destroying 29 of the country’s 30 anti-aircraft batteries.

Israeli also reportedly used this type of technology in its attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir Ezzor in 2007, blocking the Syrian military’s air defenses during the raid.

But a Russia-supplied S-300 system is not only an operational challenge — it is a geopolitical one as well.

Though in his announcement Russian defense minister Shoigu said Syrian teams had been training to operate the S-300 system, it was not immediately clear if the batteries would also be staffed by Russian military personnel


If they were, this would make an Israeli decision to destroy Syrian S-300 batteries far more complicated, requiring the direct and intentional targeting of Russian forces.

Russia’s plan to use electronic warfare against Israeli “hotheads” — per Shoigu — serves as yet another obstacle and point of consideration for the Israeli Air Force.

According to Russian media, these electronic warfare systems will create a “radioelectonic dome” with a radius of hundreds of kilometers around western Syria and the Mediterranean coast, which would affect not only Israeli planes but also American and French navy ships, as well as civilian planes in the area.

Here too, the Israeli military would likely have a number of technological and operational means to overcome this challenge, but the top brass would have to weigh the use of those measures against the value of the target.

Earlier this year, when Russia was again threatening to arm Syria with the S-300, Israeli officials said the IAF was prepared to target any anti-aircraft system that fires at its planes, regardless of who supplied it or who was operating it.

“One thing needs to be clear: If someone shoots at our planes, we will destroy them. It doesn’t matter if it’s an S-300 or an S-700,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said at the time.

While the IAF may be capable of getting around Russian radar jamming and would be well within its rights to destroy a Russia-supplied S-300 battery that fires on its planes, such acts would run the risk of further alienating Moscow and pushing the two countries further to the brink of a full diplomatic break.

READ MORE:
COMMENTS

Israel airstrike left Syria arms warehouse in ruins, satellite images show

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL NEWSPAPER)

 

Israel airstrike left Syria arms warehouse in ruins, satellite images show

Syrian soldiers reportedly arrested in connection with downed spy plane; IAF commander to fly to Moscow to present the findings of Israel’s investigation into the incident

A before and after photo of an ammunition warehouse which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on a Syrian base in Latakia, September 18, 2018 (ImageSat International (ISI/Ynet)

A before and after photo of an ammunition warehouse which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on a Syrian base in Latakia, September 18, 2018 (ImageSat International (ISI/Ynet)

A munitions warehouse in a Syrian military facility appears to have been completely obliterated in an Israeli airstrike in the Syrian port city of Latakia late on Monday, satellite images released Wednesday show.

A Russian military reconnaissance plane was shot down by Syria during the Israeli strike, killing all 15 crew members.

On Wednesday Syria released video footage from the site of the attack, reiterating its claim that Israel targeted an aluminium factory, not a weapons warehouse in Monday’s strike, according to the Ynet news site. The veracity of the footage could not be independently verified.

On Monday, Syria accidentally shot down the Russian reconnaissance plane when its air defenses swung into action against the Israeli strike on Latakia. The Russian defense ministry initially blamed Israel, saying the IAF jets used the Russian plane as cover.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin later told reporters that the downing of the plane by Syrian air defenses was a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”

The remains of a Syrian ammunition warehouse which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on a base in Latakia, September 18, 2018. (ImageSat International (ISI/Ynet)

On Wednesday, the Russians approved Prime Minister Netanyahu’s proposal to fly air force commander Major General Amiram Norkin to Moscow to present the findings of Israel’s investigation into the incident.

Syrian media and opposition sources reported Wednesday that several Syrian soldiers who were involved in the downing of the Russian spy plane were arrested and interrogated.

The fighters from the air force base in Latakia were reportedly arrested by members of the Russian military police. A Syrian unit was also reported to have taken part in the arrest, according to Hadashot TV.

Meanwhile, the remains of another plane, a Boeing 747 aircraft that was destroyed in an earlier alleged Israeli strike at Damascus airport on Saturday, and believed to be in the use of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, can be seen in separate images provided by ImageSat International (ISI).

The remains of a suspected Iranian aircraft which was hit in an Israeli airstrike, Damascus, September 18, 2018. (ImageSat International (ISI/Ynet)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the rising tensions between the two countries in the wake of Monday’s airstrike.

In the call, the Israeli leader “noted the importance of the continued security coordination between Israel and Syria that has managed to prevent many casualties on both sides in the last three years,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.

The Kremlin said that Putin emphasized that the Israeli attack violated Syria’s sovereignty and also breached the Russian-Israeli agreements on avoiding clashes in Syria. The Russian leader urged Netanyahu “not to allow such situations in the future.”

Israel said its jets had attacked a Syrian military facility that manufactured “accurate and lethal weapons,” which were “about to be transferred, on behalf of Iran, to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Netanyahu told Putin that Israel was “determined” to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, and the attempts by Iran, which calls for the destruction of Israel, to transfer to Hezbollah lethal weaponry to be used against Israel.

Netanyahu also reiterated that Israel would completely share all the information it had on the circumstances of the raid and suggested sending Israel’s air force chief to Moscow to “deliver all the needed information.”

The conversation came on Tuesday evening just before Israel began observing Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.

Earlier Tuesday, Putin confirmed that Israel did not shoot down the plane, rejecting any comparisons with the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey in 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) attends the inauguration ceremony for Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyaninin on September 18, 2018. (AFP/Sputnik/Alexey Filippov)

“An Israeli jet did not shoot down our plane,” the Russian leader said.

The Russian defense ministry on Tuesday morning had blamed Israel for the accident and warned of reprisals.

Putin said he had signed off on the defense ministry statement. “No doubt we should seriously look into this,” Putin said, speaking at a news conference after talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Israel said its deputy ambassador in Moscow Keren Cohen-Gat was summoned to the Russian foreign ministry. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said there would be no comment on what was discussed.

Putin also said Moscow would beef up security for Russian military personnel in Syria as a priority response. “These will be the steps that everyone will notice,” he said, without providing further details.

He expressed condolences to the families of the victims, calling the accident a “tragedy for us all.”

The incident was the worst case of friendly fire between the two allies since Russia’s game-changing military intervention in September 2015.

The Russian plane was downed by a Russian-made S-200 air defense supplied to Syria.

The Israeli military on Tuesday acknowledged conducting the airstrike the night before and “expressed sorrow” for the deaths of the 15 Russian airmen.

In a statement, however, the IDF denied all responsibility for the downing of the Russian spy plane, saying that Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah were the ones at fault.

“Israel expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members of the Russian plane that was downed tonight due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire,” the IDF said, and noted that the Russian plane that was hit “was not within the area of the operation.”

A photo taken on July 23, 2006 shows an Russian IL-20M (Ilyushin 20m) plane landing at an unknown location.
Russia blamed Israel on September 18, 2018 for the loss of a military IL-20M jet to Syrian fire, which killed all 15 servicemen on board, and threatened a response. (AFP PHOTO / Nikita SHCHYUKIN)

The Israeli strike was conducted at approximately 10 p.m. by four F-16 fighter jets, according to the Russian military.

Syrian air defenses opened fire at the incoming missiles, at the attacking aircraft and — according to Israel — at nothing in particular. The Russian Il-20 was shot down in the air battle.

“The Syrian anti-air batteries fired indiscriminately and, from what we understand, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air,” the army said.

According to the IDF, the target of its Monday night strike was a Syrian military facility that manufactured “accurate and lethal weapons,” which were “about to be transferred, on behalf of Iran, to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Explosions seen in the Syrian city of Latakia after an attack on a military facility nearby on September 17, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)

The target of the Israeli strike was identified by Syria as a subsidiary of its defense ministry, known as the Organization for Technical Industries, which has suspected ties to the country’s chemical weapons and missile programs.

“These weapons were meant to attack Israel, and posed an intolerable threat against it,” the army said.

Though Israeli officials have said, generally, that the military conducts operations inside Syria against Iranian and Hezbollah targets, the IDF rarely acknowledges specific airstrikes, preferring instead to adopt a formal policy of neither confirming nor denying the attacks attributed to it.

The military said its initial investigation found that its strike was completed before the Russian plane entered the area of the operation and that the reconnaissance aircraft was shot down after the Israeli fighter jets had returned to Israeli airspace.

“Israel holds the Assad regime, whose military shot down the Russian plane, fully responsible for this incident. Israel also holds Iran and the Hezbollah terror organization accountable for this unfortunate incident,” the army added.

This appeared to refute the claim made by Moscow that the Israeli pilots used the surveillance plane as cover for their attack.

A Russian military official gives a briefing on the downing of an IL-20 military plane near Syria on September 18, 2018. (screen capture: Sputnik)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also accused Israel of failing to inform the Russian military of its plans, which he said would have been in the “spirit” of Israeli-Russian coordination in Syria. The Russian defense ministry said Israel warned them of the impending strike “less than a minute” before it began, which left them insufficient time to clear their personnel from the area.

The Israeli and Russian militaries maintain what they call a “deconfliction mechanism,” which is meant to coordinate their activities in Syria in order to avoid incidents like this one. Until Monday night, these efforts had largely succeeded in preventing direct or indirect clashes since Russia became more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war three years ago.

The Israeli military said it had coordinated with Russia ahead of the attack, though it did not address Moscow’s specific claims about the amount of time between the notification and the airstrike itself.

The IDF also said it would “share all the relevant information with the Russian government to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

READ MORE:

IDF shoots down Syrian fighter jet that entered Israeli airspace

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

IDF shoots down Syrian fighter jet that entered Israeli airspace

Two Patriot missiles fired at Sukhoi aircraft that penetrated two kilometers into Israeli territory, military says

Smoke trails from two Israeli Patriot interceptor missiles that Israel says shot down a Syrian fighter jet are seen in northern Israel on July 24, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Smoke trails from two Israeli Patriot interceptor missiles that Israel says shot down a Syrian fighter jet are seen in northern Israel on July 24, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Israeli Air Force shot down a Syrian fighter jet that traveled two kilometers into Israeli airspace on Tuesday afternoon, the military said.

“Two Patriot missiles were fired at a Syrian Sukhoi-model fighter jet,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

The IDF said the aircraft was monitored as it approached the border with the Golan Heights.

“It penetrated two kilometers into Israeli airspace and was shot down,” the army said.

According to Sky News Arabia, the plane crashed inside southwest Syria, in the Yarmouk Basin, an area still under the control of the Islamic State terrorist group. It was not immediately clear if the pilots ejected before the fighter jet was shot down or what their condition was.

The official Syrian news outlet SANA confirmed that Israel had shot at one of its fighter jets, but said the plane was inside Syrian airspace at the time it was targeted.

According to SANA, Israel fired at “one of our war planes, which are leveling [terrorist] encampments in the Saida region on the outskirts of the Yarmouk Basin, in Syrian airspace.”

A military source quoted by SANA accused Israel of aiding “terrorists” in the country’s southwest, where the Syrian air force has been conducting extensive bombing raids throughout the day against a number of opposition groups.

File: A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber lands at the Russian Hmeimin military base in Latakia province, in the northwest of Syria, on December 16, 2015. (Paul Gypteau/AFP)

It was not immediately clear if the plane was a Sukhoi-22 or a Sukhoi-24, two different types of Russian-made fighter jets in use by the Syrian Air Force, the Israeli military said.

The IDF said it had noticed increased air force activity in southwestern Syria, near the border, since the morning.

“We have passed a number of messages, in a number of languages, in order to ensure that no one violates Israeli air space,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters.

The spokesman said Israel has been in regular contact with the Russian military, which operates extensively in southwestern Syria, in order to prevent any conflict with Moscow.

According to the IDF, the fighter jet took off from the Iran-linked T-4 air force base in central Syria, which Israel has bombed in the past, and traveled “at high speed” toward the Golan Heights.

Conricus said there was no “confusion” about the fact that this was a Syrian fighter jet. In the past, Israel has hesitated in shooting down incoming aircraft out of concerns they might belong to Russia.

Israel stressed that it will continue to enforce the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement, which requires Syria to abide by a demilitarized zone between the two countries

A Syrian fighter jet is seen in flames after it was hit by the Israeli military over the Golan Heights on September 23, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/JALAA MAREY)

This was the first time that Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet since 2014, when another Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jet entered Israeli airspace and was targeted with a Patriot missile.

“Israel has a very clear policy: No plane, and certainly not a Syrian plane, is allowed to enter our airspace” without the appropriate authorization, Israel’s former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told Army Radio soon after Tuesday’s incident. “Any plane identified as an enemy plane is shot down,” he said.

In February of this year, the Syrian military shot down an Israeli F-16 fighter jet as it was taking part in a bombing raid against an Iranian-linked airfield in central Syria after an Iranian drone penetrated Israeli airspace, according to the IDF. The F-16’s pilot and navigator were injured as they bailed out of the aircraft, which crashed to ground in northern Israel.

Tuesday’s breach of Israeli airspace and the interception set off incoming rocket alert sirens throughout northeastern Israel, sending thousands of residents rushing to bomb shelters for the second day in a row.

An Israeli man watches the smoke trail of a David’s Sling interceptor missile in the northern Israeli city of Safed after the interceptor was fired toward a Syrian SS-21 missile, on July 23, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Residents of northern Israel reported seeing white trails in the sky.

The Safed municipality told residents that air defense systems in the area had fired interceptor missiles and said there were no special safety instructions in light of the situation.

The alarms could be heard in the Golan Heights and Jordan Valley regions, the army said.

The sirens came a day after Israel launched two David’s Sling interceptor missiles at a pair of Syrian surface-to-surface missiles carrying approximately a half ton of explosives each that appeared to be heading toward Israel, but ultimately landed inside Syria. The Israeli interceptors did not strike the Syrian missiles: one was self-detonated by the IAF; the second reportedly fell to earth inside Syria.

The military’s air defense systems that detect and track incoming missiles and rockets are less accurate immediately after a projectile is launched, as they have less information on its trajectory. As the missile or rocket flies, the systems can better predict where it is likely to land.

Monday’s incident, which ultimately turned out to have been a false alarm, was the first known operational use of the David’s Sling system, which was declared operational last year.

The David’s Sling makes up the middle tier of Israel’s multi-layered anti-missile defense network.

In recent weeks, sirens in northern Israel have been triggered by the military shooting down unmanned aerial vehicles entering Israeli airspace from Syria.

On July 13, the Israeli military used an anti-aircraft Patriot missile to shoot down a Syrian army drone that was flying over the demilitarized zone separating Israel from Syria. Two days earlier, a Syrian military unmanned aerial vehicle penetrated some 10 kilometers (six miles) into Israeli territory before it too was shot down by a Patriot missile. The IDF said it had allowed the drone to fly so deeply into Israeli territory as it was not immediately clear if it belonged to the Russian military.

READ MORE:
COMMENTS