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Israel shoots down Syrian drone, top brass says

The drone was shot down by a Patriot missile south of Lake Kinneret, according to the Israeli military

TEL AVIV, July 11. /TASS/. Before hitting a drone over the Golan Heights, Israel made sure that it belonged to Russia and not Syria, Jonathan Conricus, Spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces, told foreign reporters in a telephone briefing.

"I can also confirm that we made sure in real time that it was not a Russian UAV," he said. "It was an unarmed Syrian UAV."

The Israeli and Russian military have had a coordination mechanism up and running since 2015 to prevent possible conflicts.

Conricus stated that the Israeli defense systems directed the vehicle after its entry in the demilitarized zone along the dividing line between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights. The UAV flew 10 km over Israeli territory and was shot down by a Patriot missile south of Lake Kinneret in northern Israel. Before that, the drone had entered Jordan’s air space, he added. The army official noted that it is still unclear why the drone crossed the Israeli border, adding that four fighters and two helicopters were dispatched to intercept it.

The anti-aircraft alarm system went off earlier on Wednesday in the Golan Heights, which are controlled by Israel, and in the Jordan River valley. The military staff reported that the anti-aircraft system had been activated due to the launch of a Patriot missile on an unidentified aircraft. Since mid-June, the Syrian army has conducted an operation in the south-west of the republic near the border with Israel against the terror group Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) and armed groups supporting it.

Syria lost control of the Golan Heights to Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967. In 1981, the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) adopted the law "On the Golan Heights," which unilaterally proclaimed Israel’s sovereignty over this territory. The annexation was recognized as illegal under Resolution 497 of the UN Security Council as of December 17, 1981.