Israel downs Syrian drone over Golan


Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told The Associated Press the agreement is a positive development.

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday affirmed joint efforts to stabilise Syria as its civil war wanes, including with the expansion of a July 7 truce in the southwestern triangle bordering Israel and Jordan.

In televised remarks opening Israel's weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not speak about the new US-Russian arrangement for Syria.

Perhaps even more worrying for Israel, Iran's increasing presence in southern Syria offers Tehran the opportunity to position either its own troops or fighters from Hezbollah or other Shiite militias who could strike directly at the Jewish state.

The drone was intercepted by a Patriot missile in the demilitarised zone between the Israeli-and Syrian-controlled parts of the Golan, a military spokeswoman said in a statement.

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Israeli security officials said the drone's operators had deliberately attempted to fly the aircraft across the Israeli border from Syria, but the craft was shot down before it crossed into Israel.

The Hezbollah fighters have been helping the Syrian military in its battle against Fateh al-Sham and ISIS, two prominent Takfiri terrorist groups operating in the Middle Eastern country. It fears Iran could use Syrian territory to stage attacks on Israel, or to create a land corridor from Iran to Lebanon that could allow it to transfer weapons more easily to Hezbollah.

A US State Department official said Russian Federation had agreed "to work with the Syrian regime to remove Iranian-backed forces a defined distance" from the Golan Heights frontier with Israel, which captured the plateau in the 1967 Middle East war. The regime has built dozens of settlements in the area ever since and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.

Yet, even if major forces agree upon suspending fights, we should be anxious about the new stage indicators of regional confrontations inside and outside Syria. Earlier this month, Damascus called on the United Nations to take immediate action against Israel following its airstrike on a copper factory in the town of Hassia in Homs province. Israel has also been providing medical treatment to the extremist militants wounded in Syria.