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Syria 'repels' Israeli surveillance aircraft: state media

UN peacekeepers look through binoculars as they monitor the Israel-Syria border in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on February 10, 2018
JALAA MAREY (AFP)

Syrian state television reported on Wednesday that the country's air defense system has "repelled" Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles along the two countries' northern border.

Earlier, Al Mayadeen TV cited one of their correspondents as saying that Syrian air defenses had "confronted" Israeli surveillance aircraft near Quneitra on the Golan Heights.

Earlier on Wednesday Syria's deputy foreign minister said the country would shoot down any "hostile" aircraft that entered its airspace.

The report comes days after Israel, Iran and Syria came to blows in dramatic day of conflict on Saturday perceived as the most dramatic escalation between arch foes Israel and Iran since the start of the seven-year long Syrian Civil War.

Just before dawn local time, the Israel Defense Force detected an Iranian drone in Israeli airspace for approximately 90 seconds and shot it down.

In retaliation, eight Israeli F-16 fighter jets entered Syria and carried out what they described as a "large scale" attack targeting a vehicle that controlled the drone and an airbase said to be bristling with Iranian personnel and weapons.

Amid the confrontation, the Israeli military said one of its fighter jets had crashed after it came under heavy fire from Syrian air defenses during strikes against "Iranian targets." The pilots ejected themselves, one was seriously injured.

Israel has repeatedly warned allies that it will not tolerate what it says are Iran's attempts at establishing a deep-rooted military infrastructure in Syria.

Iran issued a joint statement alongside the other main allies of the Syrian regime, Russia and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, vowing a "relentless response" to Israeli "aggression".

Israel's Defense Minister Liberman warned that "it is time for Israel to bite and not to bark".

A number of strikes on targets in Syria have been attributed to Israel. Though Israel rarely confirms such raids, it has admitted to carrying out strikes against convoys of weapons intended for Shiite militant group, Hezbollah in Lebanon.

More to come.

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