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Syrian drone shot down over Sea of Galilee

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Israel’s air force reportedly attacked three military positions in Syria on Wednesday night, after an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) entered Israeli airspace earlier in the day.

Syrian news agencies said that the Israel Air Force (IAF’s) attacked its army outposts near the Druze village of Khader in the Quneitra area adjacent to the Israeli border. The agencies claim that the Syrian air-defence systems successfully repelled the IAF’s attack but “material” damage was caused to the installations.

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) said a UAV was intercepted by a Patriot missile over the Sea of Galilee on Wednesday afternoon after flying 10 kilometres into Israeli airspace. Incoming missile sirens were triggered by the Patriot missile interception in the Golan Heights and Jordan Valley. Shortly afterwards the IDF tweeted a video of the missile intercepting the drone.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said the drone was likely an intelligence-gathering aircraft of Syrian origin but that “the IDF has not yet determined whether it was an error or deliberate action”. He added: “It was under surveillance every step of the way. We also looked into the possibility that it was a Russian aircraft.”

An IDF statement noted that Israeli air defence systems tracked the UAV’s flight path including when it flew over Jordanian territory. Writing in Haaretz, Amos Harel said “it’s possible that [the drone] strayed from its flight path. But it’s hard to dismiss the possibility that its operators were taking advantage of the chaos at the border to photograph sites in Israel”.

The IDF said on Wednesday that it holds the Syrian regime responsible for what it happens on Syrian territory and warned it against attacking Israeli forces.

Last weekend, Israel attacked a Syrian army position after a mortar fired by Syrian soldiers at rebels in Quneitra hit the Israeli border zone.

On 24 June, a Patriot missile was fired at a drone apparently belonging to either Iran or Hezbollah that was approaching Israel’s territory. On February 10, Israel shot down an Iranian-operated armed drone that it tracked entering its airspace from Syria, which triggered a substantial Israeli bombardment of Iranian military installations in Syria. In this operation, Israel lost an F-16 to Syrian anti-aircraft missiles.