Russian forces opened fire on Israeli fighter jets from an S-300 air-defense missile system during the May 13 Israeli attack on Syria, Israel’s Channel 13 reported on May 16.
According to news channel, the unprecedented incident occurred at the end of the Israeli attack, which targeted a military research complex near the town of Masyaf in the western countryside of Syria’s Hama.
According to the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria, Syrian air-defense systems shot down 16 of 22 guided missiles Israeli fighter jets launched during the attack on the complex. An Israeli drone was also shot down while taking part in the attack.
The Israeli attack claimed the lives of five people, including three service members of Syria’s air defense forces, and wounded at least seven others.
Channel 13 said that S-300 batteries opened fire as the Israeli fighter jets were flying on their way back to their bases. The report alleged that the S-300 radar did not lock onto the fighter jets and thus did not present a serious threat to them.
Syria received three S-300PMU2 air-defense systems from Russia after the downing of a Russian Il-20 intelligence aircraft by Syrian air defense forces which were responding to an Israeli strike over Syrian airspace in September 2018. Russia blamed Israel for the incident, which killed 15 Russian crew members. At least one of these systems is known to be deployed a few kilometers to the northwest of Masyaf.
In its report, Channel 13 argued that Syria’s S-300 systems are operated by the Russian military and cannot be fired without its approval.
Israel rarely acknowledges or discusses its attacks on Syria. As of now, the Israeli Defense Forces have not commented on the last attack or the alleged S-300 launch.
The Channel 13 report said it was not immediately clear if the activation of Syria’s S-300 systems was a one-time event or if it was a Russian signal to Israel that it was changing its policy when it comes to attacks on Syria.
The report comes amid a deterioration in relations between Israel and Russia, which began after the start of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. Recently, Israel became more critical of the Russian operation and began providing non-lethal equipment to Kiev forces, likely to appease the US.