Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz publicly confirmed that Russian forces had targeted F-16 fighters of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) during an air raid in Syria.  

The incident took place on May 13, 2022, in Masyaf, western Syria. The IDF fighters allegedly targeted either Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias based in the area, or a Syrian research center used to produce chemical weapons, according to the Times of Israel. 

“It was a one-off incident,” Gantz told local media Channel 13, which initially reported the incident, on July 26, 2022. “Our jets weren’t even in the area [when the missiles were fired - ed. note].” 

The minister also said the S-300 targeting radar did not lock on to Israeli fighters, though he did not specify if it was because of active jamming from the aircraft, or simply a warning shot from Russian forces. 

It is not the first time that the Moscow’s support of the Syrian regime has led to friction with Israel. In September 2018, a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 surveillance aircraft was shot down by a Syrian-operated S-200 missile system during an airstrike by Israeli F-16s on Syrian chemical facilities in the industrial zone of Latakia.  

The Russian Ministry of Defense accused Israeli pilots of using the Il-20 aircraft as cover, leading to the death of 15 Russian crewmembers.  

READ MORE:
 
After initially blaming France and Israel for the disappearance of a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 surveillance plane, Moscow eventually admitted that it was shot down by a Syrian defense system. But Russia still blames Israel for their airstrikes that led to “a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region”.