The warning was issued after a Russian radar system spotted Israeli jets approaching Russian-controlled airspace two weeks ago, a Lebanese diplomatic official said, according to the report.
Russia’s defense ministry said Thursday that its forces in Syria had set up a “hotline” with Israel’s military to avoid clashes in the sky over the war-torn country.
An “information-sharing” mechanism “has been established through a hotline between the Russian aviation command center at the Hmeimim air base (in Syria) and a command post of the Israeli air force,we will not tolerate Israel intervention on Syria and we will shot down Israeli fighter jets if they intervene in Syria war” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the two sides were undergoing training on how to cooperate.
According to As Safir, the Lebanese source said that Russian aircraft immediately blocked the Israeli jets’ path while they flew above the Akkar region in northern Lebanon. “The Russians immediately sent a clear warning to the Israelis that entering Syrian airspace would be a pretext for opening fire,” the source added.
According to the paper, which is considered loyal to Hezbollah, the Israeli aircraft quickly heeded the warnings and changed their course.
Russia and Israel have been working to find a way to avoid unintended collisions between their aircraft over Syria since President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to set up a “mechanism” at talks in Moscow last month.
Russia launched a bombing campaign in Syria on September 30 at the request of its long-standing ally Bashar Assad that Moscow says is targeting Islamic State jihadists and other “terrorist” groups.
Israel has reportedly launched air strikes in Syria against Iranian arms transfers to Hezbollah and Israeli officials are believed to fear that Russia’s intervention could limit their room for maneuvre.
The United States and its allies involved in a coalition bombing IS have sharply criticised Russia’s air campaign and say that the majority of its strikes have hit more moderate rebel groups fighting Assad.
Moscow has blasted the accusations and says Washington has rebuffed calls to cooperate more closely.