Israel threatens to destroy Syria's air defence systems 'without the slightest hesitation'
Israel's defence minister has threatened to destroy Syria's air defence systems if they are used to target Israeli fighter jets again.
The Israeli military said it shot down one of several anti-aircraft rockets fired at its warplanes by Syria last week.
Air force officials said four Israeli jets had struck several targets inside Syria overnight and were attacked by three Syrian surface-to-air missiles, one of which was intercepted by the Israeli Aerial Defence System known as "Arrow."
"The next time the Syrians use their air defence systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation," Avigdor Lieberman said in remarks broadcast on Israeli public radio.
Syrian state media said an Israeli jet was shot down over Palmyra — a claim Israel immediately denied saying none of its planes were hit.
Israel had carried out strikes near Palmyra to help “Isis terrorist gangs and in a desperate attempt to raise their deteriorating morale and divert attention away from the victories which Syrian Arab Army is making in the face of the terrorist organisations”, a Syrian army statement said.
Most Israeli air strikes in Syrian territory over the last few years were aimed at preventing weapons from being smuggled to the Iran-allied Lebanese group Hezbollah, which fighters alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime against rebel forces.
While the Israel Defence Force (IDF) does not comment on the nature of its operations, Hezbollah, like Iran, is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.
In highly unusual comments confirming the operation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Our policy is very consistent. When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to the Hezbollah, and we have the intelligence and the operational capability, we act to prevent that. That is what was and that is what will be."