Israel Says 'Hizbullah-Operated' Drone over Golan Heights was Interceptedإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Israel's military fired a Patriot missile on Tuesday to bring down what it said was an Iranian-made drone operated by Hizbullah on a reconnaissance mission over the Golan Heights.
The drone took off from a Damascus military airport before entering the demilitarized zone approaching the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights, Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told the AFP news agency.
"We scrambled fighter jets but they did not engage the UAV," Conricus said. "It was instead shot down by one Patriot missile that was fired by Israeli air defense soldiers."
He said details of the drone were still being evaluated, including whether or not it was armed. It fell in the buffer zone between the Israeli- and Syrian-controlled parts of the Golan.
"Our message is that the IDF (Israeli army) will not allow any violation of Israeli sovereignty, and we will not allow Iranian forces, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad or Shiite militias of any kind to approach the Israeli borders," Conricus said. He said if any other attempts to violate Israel's sovereignty are made, it "will respond swiftly."
Conricus said Hizbullah, which has sent forces to back Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war, routinely uses drones on surveillance missions. But it is rare for the pilotless aircraft to enter Israeli airspace.
Conricus also stressed that said Israel did not seek any further escalation.
Israel and Syria are still technically at war, though the armistice line on the Golan Heights had remained largely quiet for decades until civil war erupted in Syria in 2011.
Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
The aerial showdown took place as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was preparing to address the U.N. General Assembly, where his speech is expected to focus on concerns of Iran's rising influence across the region, particularly in neighboring Syria.
The Israeli military spokesman said the decision to shoot down the drone had no link with Netanyahu's expected speech.