On Monday, Russia’s foreign ministry announced that they summoned the Israeli ambassador to Moscow in order to get an explanation on Israel’s airstrikes last week inside Syria. According to Russia’s news agency Interfax, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov confirmed that Gary Koren was summoned on Friday, the day that Israel reportedly struck several targets near the ancient city of Palmyra. Syria stated that they responded by shooting at the Israeli jets, and Bogdanov said Russia “expressed concern” over the exchange of fire between the two nations.
The Syrian army called Israel’s airstrikes “an act of aggression,” and responded by firing anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli jets. Syria claimed their retaliation took down one warplane and damaged another, but Israel denied those statements. Israel claimed its own Arrow air defense system was able to intercept one Syrian missile.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out about the incident on Saturday and said the strikes were a part of a mission to take out convoys that were transporting weapons to Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terror organization backed by Iran. Hezbollah has been fighting alongside Syrian government forces in the six-year-long civil war in Syria.
On Sunday, Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said on Israeli radio that the “next time the Syrians use their air-defense systems against our planes, we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation.”
“Each time we discover arms transfers from Syria to Lebanon, we will act to stop them. On this there will be no compromise,” Lieberman added.
Russia has served as a top ally to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the years long conflict as they battle extremist militants inside Syrian borders. At the request of the Syrian government, Russia has been conducting an aerial campaign against the Islamic State and other terror groups since September 2015.
According to The Times of Israel, Israel struck targets inside Syria for the third time overnight Sunday into Monday.