DAMASCUS — Israel will face “more surprises” should it again attack Syrian territory, Damascus said on Tuesday, after Syria’s air defenses shot down an advanced Israeli warplane during the fiercest flare-up between the old foes in 36 years.
The F-16 jet was hit over northern Israel on Saturday as it returned from a raid on a Syrian position blamed for launching an Iranian-made drone across the border. Iran is supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s near seven-year civil war.
“Have full confidence the aggressor will be greatly surprised, because it thought this war – this war of attrition Syria has been exposed to for years – had made it incapable of confronting attacks,” Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Sussan said.
“God willing, they will see more surprises whenever they try to attack Syria,” Sussan said during a Damascus news conference.
In a new development, on Wednesday, the Syrian government said their air defenses repelled Israeli surveillance planes that breached their southern border.
“Syrian air defenses have repelled Israeli surveillance planes over Quneitra, forcing them to leave Syrian airspace,” the official SANA news agency said.
Israel has not commented on the reports.
The downed F-16 was the first warplane Israel has lost to Arab fire since its 1982 Lebanon war. Its two-man crew survived, with injuries, after bailing out of the stricken jet.
Syria and Hezbollah celebrated the F-16 shoot-down as a blow to Israeli military superiority.