Israeli air strikes hit southwest Syria after drone 'infiltration'

Damascus (AFP) –


Israel launched air strikes against three military posts in Syria Wednesday, its army said, after intercepting what it described as the incursion of an unarmed drone into its territory.

The attack came hours after Israel's military fired a Patriot missile to knock down an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, that strayed across Syria's ceasefire line with its neighbour.

In a series of posts on Twitter the Israeli army said it hit the three military posts "in response to the infiltration of the Syrian UAV into Israel".

The statement said Israel "holds the Syrian regime accountable for the actions carried out in its territory and warns it from further action against Israeli forces".

Syrian state news agency SANA earlier said Israeli air strikes hit Syrian army positions in the southwest of the country near the occupied Golan Heights.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said missiles likely fired by Israeli forces hit the north of the province and areas along the border with the Golan Heights.

"Missile strikes hit the area of Hadar in the north of Quneitra, and others hit positions of the regime forces and their allies near the Baath town and Jaba village," the monitor said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, it said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli army said the downed drone may have been on an intelligence mission.

The remains of the UAV and the Patriot were found on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee, some 10 kilometres (six miles) beyond the ceasefire line with Syria, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said.

It was not clear if it had strayed across the line unintentionally.

Israel has been on alert in recent weeks over fightin in southern Syria, warning that ceasefire lines between the two countries must be respected.

Spillover fire from Syria's civil war has occasionally landed in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Israel is particularly worried about the presence of Damascus ally Iran next door in Syria.

In February, Israel intercepted what it said was an armed drone sent into its territory by Iran.

A series of strikes in Syria that have killed Iranians have been attributed to Israel in recent months.

Damascus has set its sights on ousting rebels from Quneitra and the adjacent Daraa province, where Syria's uprising started in 2011.

The regime has retaken more than 80 percent of Daraa province since June 19, after a bombardment campaign and deals with the opposition.

Israel seized a large swathe of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, in a move never recognised by the international community.