Israel intercepts Syrian drone over Golan Heights
Jalaa MAREY (AFP)
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was intercepted by an Israeli patriot missile on Saturday, after approaching the Israeli-Syrian border near the Golan Heights, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.
Early indications are that the UAV belonged to the Syrian government, who frequently use drones for intelligence-gathering activity in the Golan Heights area, where they are engaged against rebel forces.
"The state of Israel views with great severity any violation of sovereignty and will respond with force to any provocation,"declared Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday following the incident.
"We view the Syrian regime as responsible," he continued, "and call on it to restrain all the elements operating from its territory."
The patriot missile was reportedly launched from the Safed following the approach of the Syrian intelligence-gathering vehicle into Israeli airspace in the Quneitra area close to the border. Residents in the Upper Galilee area reported hearing explosions and aerial activity, news website Ynet reported.
Israel's military apparently made contact with its Russian counterparts operating in the demilitarized zone in order to verify that the drone did not belong to Russia before deciding to shoot it done, Haaretz reported.
This comes amid rising tensions in the region, as the six-year-long Syrian civil war rages on and Iran's increasing influence via its Lebanese proxy group Hezbollah, heightens Israel's security woes.
"We will not allow the establishment of the Shiite axis in Syria as a basis for frontal action," Liberman said.
(More to follow).
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