Israel shoots down Syrian UAV amid escalating tensions in Golan Heights

31 August 2014 (Last Updated August 31st, 2014 18:30)

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that entered Israeli-controlled airspace over the Golan Heights on 31 August.

Golan Heights

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that entered Israeli-controlled airspace over the Golan Heights on 31 August.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed in a statement: "The IDF intercepted a UAV that breached Israeli airspace from Syria near Quneitra. The UAV was targeted by a 'Patriot' missile.

"The IDF will not tolerate a breach of the State of Israel's sovereignty."

Unnamed Israeli Army sources were quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying that the UAV is likely to have been launched by the Syrian Army and might have accidently crossed into Israeli airspace.

Responding to the intercept, the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said the Israeli air defence personnel have once again proven their high alertness and professionalism.

"Israel will not allow any breach of our sovereignty or attempt to harm our civilians and soldiers in the North, whether deliberate or accidental.

"Recent weeks have proven that our patience for attempts to harm us is short, and if someone attempts to test us, we will know how to respond aggressively."

Over the last week, several Syrian mortar fires have struck the Golan Heights, killing an IDF officer, while a civilian was also injured by mortar shrapnel, reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

"The UAV is likely to have been launched by the Syrian Army and might have accidently crossed into Israeli airspace."

The IDF is believed to have retaliated for some of the mortar fire.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting is underway between the Syrian Government forces and rebels in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights after the rebels took control of the Quneitra crossing last week.

The Syrian militant groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, also kidnapped a contingent of 44 Fijian peacekeepers on 28 August.

Efforts are underway for the release of the peacekeepers, whose whereabouts currently remain unknown.

The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) said in a statement: "At this time, no additional information on their status or location has been established.

"The United Nations continues to actively seek their immediate and unconditional release."


Image: The Syrian rebels have apparently captured the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Photo: courtesy of Masterpjz9.

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