Is­rael downs Syr­ian spy drone over Golan

Golan DMZ has sep­a­rated Is­raeli and Syr­ian forces since the cease­fire deal, post the 1973 war.

The Sunday Guardian - - World - REUTERS

Rus­sian-man­u­fac­tured but of­fered no ev­i­dence. A mil­i­tary source later said it was un­clear whether the UAV was in­deed Rus­sian-made.

“It was a re­con­nais­sance UAV (un­manned ae­rial ve­hi­cle) and not an at­tack UAV and we are check­ing whether there is any con­nec­tion to Iran and Hezbol­lah,” mil­i­tary spokesman, Lieu­tenant-Colonel Jonathan Con­ri­cus, told Reuters.

Is­raeli De­fence Min­is­ter Avig­dor Lieber­man said Is­rael viewed the in­ci­dent gravely and would re­spond to any provo­ca­tion.

“We hold the Syr­ian regime re­spon­si­ble for any fir­ing or breach of sovereignty and call on it to hold back all play­ers ac­tive in its ter­ri­tory,” Lieber­man said in a state­ment.

Rus­sia in­ter­vened in the civil war on be­half of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad in 2015, join­ing a de-facto al­liance with Ira­nian forces, Le­banese Hezbol­lah and other Shi‘ite Mus­lim mili­tias help­ing Da­m­as­cus beat back Is­lamic State and other Sunni Mus­lim in­sur­gent groups.

Is­rael fears an even­tual As­sad vic­tory could leave Iran with a per­ma­nent gar­ri­son in Syria, ex­tend­ing a threat posed from neigh­bor­ing Le­banon by the Ira­ni­an­backed Hezbol­lah and has been lob­by­ing Rus­sia and the United States for re­as­sur­ances that Ira­nian and Hezbol­lah forces will not be al­lowed to de­ploy near its bor­der or set up bases within Syria.

“We will not al­low the Shi‘ite axis to es­tab­lish Syria as its fore­front base,” Lieber­man said.

The Golan, which Is­rael cap­tured from Syria in the 1967 con­flict, has seen spillover vi­o­lence from the Syr­ian civil war. Is­rael has at times fired to foil what it deemed de­lib­er­ate cross-bor­der at­tacks and has struck sus­pected Hezbol­lah arms ship­ments around 100 times in Syria dur­ing the civil war.

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