The Israeli military said Friday it shot down one of the many anti-aircraft missiles launched at its air force operating in Syria. The move is seen as the most serious incident between Israel and pro-Assad forces since the beginning of the civil war in Syria six years ago. 

Israeli Air Force planes struck several targets in Syria when the Assad regime, in response, deployed air defense systems and fired a number of missiles toward Israeli jets. While none of the Israeli aircraft were hit, one of the missiles was intercepted north of Jerusalem by Israel's "Arrow" missile defense system.

"Overnight IAF (Israeli Air Force) aircraft targeted several targets in Syria. Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and IDF (Israel Defence Force) Aerial Defence Systems intercepted one of the missiles," the military said in its statement. 

Israel has carried out dozens of strikes to prevent weapons smuggling to the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, with which it fought a war in 2006. 

In Syria, Hezbollah, along with Russia, has established itself as one of the primary forces backing President Bashar Assad in Damascus' war against ISIS and various opposition groups, which have captured large swathes of land in Syria.

Last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss alleged attempts by Iran to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria.

Israel's freedom of action over Syria has long been threatened by Russian-supplied anti-aircraft missile systems – including most recently S300 launchers - in the region despite an agreement with Moscow to avoid clashes with Russian aircraft supporting the Assad regime.

While Israel has long avoided getting involved in the war in Syria, its jets have been striking targets in the region since at least 2013, when U.S. officials told CNN they believed IDF jets had struck targets inside Syrian territory. 

"We will do whatever is necessary to stop the transfer of weapons from Syria to terrorist organizations. We have done it in the past and we will do it if necessary the future," a source in the Israeli defense establishment told CNN at the time.