Israel has shot down what it claims was an Iranian-supplied Hezbollah reconnaissance drone over the Syrian border only hours before a speech at the UN by the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he is expected to warn of the growing threat from Iran and its proxies on Israel’s northern border.
The drone, which Israeli military sources claimed took off from an airfield close to the Syrian capital, Damascus, was shot down by a Patriot missile from a battery deployed near the town of Safed just north of the Sea of Galilee.
Initial reports suggested that the drone had entered Israeli airspace before being amended to suggest it was shot down in the demilitarised zone near the Syrian border village of Quneitra.
Images on social media showed the trail of the Patriot in the skies above Safed.
The Israeli military said the drone was successfully intercepted by a single missile over the Golan Heights after two fighter jets were also scrambled to the border area.
The incident occurred only a few hours before Netanyahu was due to speak at the UN general assembly. It is expected he will call for stronger international efforts against Iran – including strengthening the mandate for inspections of sites potentially associated with its nuclear programme and action to push back Iran and its ally Hezbollah from Israel’s northern border.
An Israeli military spokesman told the Guardian that it was not the first occasion in which it had detected Hezbollah drones conducting reconnaissance near Israel’s border.
“It was detected taking off from a military airfield in Damascus and turned west before then turning and approaching the border with the demilitarised zone.
“When it crossed two jets were scrambled before it was engaged with a single Patriot missile.” The spokesman added that although it was not clear whether the drone was carrying a weapon, intelligence suggested it had been supplied to Hezbollah by Iran. “We have seen a significant recent rise in [Hezbollah’s] drone capability,” he added.
Source » theguardian