Israel fires missiles to send back unmanned Syrian drone from its airspace

  • Reuters, Jerusalem
  • Updated: Jul 17, 2016 23:06 IST
An Israeli soldier maneuvers a tank during a military exercise in the northern part of the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights near the border with Syria on June 23, 2016. (AFP file photo)

Israel on Sunday fired missiles towards an unmanned drone that entered Israeli-controlled airspace from Syria and it turned back, the military said in a statement.

“Two Patriot air defence missiles were fired towards a drone which infiltrated Israeli airspace in the central Golan Heights. The drone returned to Syria,” the Israeli army said.

A military spokesperson said there were no known casualties.

Israel has often responded to errant mortar fire from the civil war in neighbouring Syria on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights with tank and mortar shells and with air strikes, but the use of Patriot anti-aircraft interceptor missiles is unusual.

A Syrian rebel source in the area said the Syrian army had launched a rare air raid on al-Shajara village along the Jordanian border. The village, which is also close to the Israeli frontier, is held by the Shuhada al-Yarmouk group, who are thought to be Islamic State affiliates.

Though formally neutral on the civil war, Israel has frequently pledged to prevent shipments of advanced weaponry to Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, whose fighters have been allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Two months ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had launched dozens of strikes in Syria.

The Golan Heights is a strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East, and annexed in a move that has not won international recognition.

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