Israeli Air Force dispatches jets in response to Syrian helicopter activity

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[From Haaretz]

By Amos Harel

The Israel Air Force dispatched several fighter planes toward Syria on Thursday in response to suspicious military helicopter activity beyond the border.

This was the third time that IAF jets were sent to the Syrian border over the last two weeks.

The jets returned to the base shortly after the operation began once the Syrian helicopters had landed in Syrian territory.

Both the Syrian Army and the Israel Defense Forces are reportedly on a heightened state of alert, following reports of an IAF aerial strike on Syrian soil early this month.

An IDF spokeswoman said it was standing policy not to comment on reports of air force operations but a defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said planes had been sent in a standard response to investigate aerial activity in the border region.

On Saturday, a Syrian airplane disappeared from the Israeli radar screens, prompting the IAF to dispatch warplanes toward the Syrian border, army sources said.

The incident – which occurred amid record-high tension between Jerusalem and Damascus – ended with the Israel Air Force pilots returning to their base within minutes of being dispatched, after it transpired that the plane had crashed on Syrian soil due to an accident.

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