Tensions in the Middle East have been on the rise for some time now. Recently, tensions reached an all-time high when an Israeli jet was downed by the Syrian military. The saber-rattling only seems to be intensifying. With so many nations now involved in the Syrian conflict, it’s hard to foresee any kind of positive outcome in the situation.
Hostilities in Middle East are on the Rise Again
Cross-border violence between Israel and Syria broke out and began a heated exchange of threats between the two governments earlier this month.
An Israeli F-16 fighter jet was shot down in the Middle East after coming under massive anti-aircraft fire from Syrian military air defenses as it returned from a raid on what Israelis deemed Iranian facilities responsible for launching an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) into the Israeli occupied airspace in the Golan Heights.
Syrian Army Confirms Israeli Hit
In a statement given by Bashar al-Assad’s state media, Israeli jets fired missiles at the al-Qutayfah area close to Damascus from inside Lebanese airspace. After returning fire, the Syrian army confirmed that its anti-aircraft artillery successfully hit an Israeli aircraft. According to reports, Israeli jets faced between 15 to 20 anti-aircraft missiles fired by SA-5 and SA-17 batteries.
Both Israeli fighter pilots managed to eject and parachute to safety before the jet crashed in northern Israel. One pilot was critically injured while the other suffered only moderate injuries.
Hezbollah Calls Incident ‘New Strategic Phase’
Hezbollah has stated that the downing of the F-16 is only the beginning of what they’re calling, “a new strategic phase.”
According to reports from the Jerusalem Post, it’s the first time Israel has lost an aircraft in combat since 2006 when an Israeli helicopter was downed over Lebanon in the Middle East by a rocket fired by Hezbollah forces.
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Only a couple hours after the downing of the jet, Israel began attacking additional targets inside Syrian territory, including Iranian targets near Damascus as well as Syrian air defense sites in the Middle East.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated that it was successful in destroying the main command and control bunker of the Syrian military.
First Such Incident Since 1982 Lebanon War
This recent cross-border violence is the most serious of its kind between the Shia and Jewish adversaries in the Middle East for quite some time. It’s believed to be the first time Israel has lost a jet in the Syrian conflict and would mark the first of such an instance since the 1982 Lebanon War.
Although analysts have said the likelihood of these tit-for-tat attacks leading to a greater war is slim, the recent clash mixed with the sheer number of parties now involved in the Syrian conflict has intensified fears that the Middle East could be headed for all-out war.
What do you think? Is the troubled Middle East region heading into a new phase intensified violence? Will additional nation states be dragged into the conflict?