“On October 13, from 23:35 to 23:39, four F-16 tactical fighters of the Israeli Air Force entered Syrian airspace in the US-occupied al-Tanf zone in Homs Province and struck a phosphate ore processing plant in the Palmyra region,” said the deputy head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Warring Parties in Syria Rear Admiral Vadim Kulit at a briefing.
Kulit added that the Syrian military, however, decided not to target the Israeli jets that carried out the strike in central Syria because there were two civilian airliners in the sky at the time.
“The Syrian military leadership decided not to use air defense systems, since at the time of the Israeli aviation attack, two civilian passenger aircraft were in the zone of destruction of the anti-aircraft systems,” Kulit said, Sputnik news reported.
The Syrian Defense Ministry announced earlier that the Wednesday attack killed one soldier and injured three others.
Israel has repeatedly used civilian aircraft as a shield against Syrian air defense systems in its aggression against the Arab country.
In February, an Airbus A320 with 172 passengers on board was forced to make an emergency landing at the Russian-operated Hmeimim Air Base during an Israeli attack.
Back in 2018, Israel had to apologize for using a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft as a shield during an attack, causing a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile to shoot down the Russian aircraft instead and kill 15 Russian and two Syrian service members.
Israel’s Wednesday attack came just days after Syria’s air defenses thwarted an Israeli missile attack on a military air base, known as T-4, in Homs, shooting down most of the incoming projectiles.
That aerial assault had been initiated from the direction of the al-Tanf area as well, with Syrian official news agency SANA reporting that it wounded six soldiers and resulted in some material losses.