An IDF Patriot missile fired on Saturday intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle which had left Syria on its way to Israel’s airspace over the Golan Heights. But, according to a report in Ma’ariv Sunday, before the launch of the Patriot and IAF aircraft, the Russian Army was contacted, as part Israel’s coordination protocol with the Putin government, to verify whether the aircraft was one of theirs.
After a negative response was received, it was decided to intercept the UAV. The drone was shot down by IDF air defense fighters near the demilitarized zone in the northern Golan Heights. According to protocol, additional aircraft were dispatched at the same time, and returned to their base after the interception.
The UAV was made in Russia, and launched by the Assad army, apparently for gathering intelligence about the deployment of anti-government forces along the border with Israel. In recent weeks, the Syrian army has been trying to repel the al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat a-Nasra group—an Israeli ally—from the border area.
“Israel views with great seriousness any violation of its sovereignty and will respond with force to any provocation,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned after the UAV interception. “We hold the Syrian regime responsible for all shooting and violation of our sovereignty and call on it to restrain all the elements operating from its territory.”
Pushing an equally important point forward, possibly in light of Saturday’s joint press release of Presidents Trump and Putin in support of de-escalation zones, Liberman warned: “We will not allow the establishment of a Shiite axis in Syria as a base for a frontal action [aganst Israel].”
Last April, an Israeli Patriot missile intercepted another unmanned aircraft entering from Syria. In July 2016, an aircraft was detected near the Syrian border and two Patriot missiles were fired at it, but a interception was not detected. In August 2014, a Patriot missile intercepted a Sukhoi 24 Syrian fighter jet –the first time a Syrian plane had been shot down by the Israeli Air Force after 28 years. A month earlier, a Patriot missile intercepted a UAV in the Quneitra area, in the Syrian Golan Heights.