Two four-plane formations took part in an airstrike to retaliate the infiltration of an Iranian drone into Israeli airspace on Saturday. Among other things, they attacked the drone's control and command center as well as other Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria.
After bombing their targets, the Israeli fighter jets came under fire by Syrian air defense, with over 20 SA-5 and SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles launched at them.
One missile exploded near one of the planes, leading the pilot and navigator to decide to bail out within seconds, despite not having reported this in the comms system.
As the missile did not directly hit the plane, some assessments indicate that had the pilot and navigator taken a different course of action, the plane might not have gone down. However, no conclusions have been reached on the matter yet.
The initial investigation into the incident found that at least one of the F-16 jets was exposed to fire as it was flying at a high altitude to confirm the missiles Israel had launched hit their targets.
The formation's leading plane noticed the missiles and was able to dive on time and evade them.
Four Iranian targets
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday Israel dealt "severe blows to the armed forces of Iran and Syria." These blows included 12 targets in Syria, four of them Iranian.
One such Iranian target was the military air base in Mezzeh, which is closed to the Syrian army. Iranian "advisers" from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force are stationed there to supervise the transfer of military equipment from Tehran to Damascus and from there to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Another target was the T-4 air base in the eastern Homs province, 60km east of Palmyra. This is the largest military air base in Syria, which houses IRGC air force teams. The base suffered extensive damage, putting it out of commission after its control tower and 54 runways suffered direct hits.
The remaining two Iranian targets were a weapons depot in Jabal Mana, east of Al-Kiswah, which is being run by Iranian forces, and a military base in Tel Abu Tha'alab, south of Damascus, which is being used by Iranian troops.
Among the Syrian targets bombed was a Syrian army weapons depot west of Al-Kiswah on the outskirts of Damascus; a military base in Al-Dimas, in northeastern Damascus; and a military base in the nearby Madaya.
Also among the Syrian targets was the base of the Syrian army's 16th Division in the Qalamun Mountains, where the Syrian air force's anti-aircraft batteries are stationed; the base of the elite Syrian Republican Guard south of Damascus; the 156th Division's base north of Daraa, which also includes arms depots; the bases of the 79th and 89th Divisions, north of Daraa, which are located near the Israel-Syria-Jordan border; and the 175th Division's base in the Izra area.
So far, six military personnel were reported killed in the strikes, some of them "foreigners." Their identities have yet to be revealed. Arab commentators hinted on Sunday that the number of casualties could be much bigger.