IDF reconnaissance drone crashes in southern Syria

IDF reconnaissance drone crashes in southern Syria

Army says no danger of sensitive information being compromised after Skylark UAV hits ground near Hader

Soldiers from the IDF's Sky Riders Unit launch a Skylark drone during an exercise in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)
Soldiers from the IDF's Sky Riders Unit launch a Skylark drone during an exercise in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday evening that one of its drones crashed in Syrian territory.

It was not immediately clear why the Skylark reconnaissance drone landed near Hader in southern Syria.

The army said there was no risk that sensitive information on the drone would be comprised.

The crash came as fighting in southern Syria is expected to intensify, with troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad readying an assault on remaining rebel-held areas near Daraa and Quneitra.

Syrian sources in the area of Quneitra initially claimed the UAV was shot down.

Syrian social media users shared images claiming to show the crashed drone.

In September the army launched an investigation after two Skylark drones crashed in the West Bank.

The “sky rider,” as it is known in Hebrew, is a tactical surveillance drone created by Israel’s Elbit Systems and operated by the Artillery corps. The miniature UAV can be launched by one or two people, depending on the model, and once airborne provides a live video feed to soldiers on the ground.

Since January 2017, Skylarks have crashed at least seven times, including Tuesday’s incident, and another one was shot down while in operational service.

One crashed in January 2017 in southern Lebanon, prompting a mad dash by IDF forces to recover the aircraft and prevent its falling into enemy hands. Hezbollah claimed to have retrieved parts of the destroyed drone.

In March 2017, another crashed in northern Gaza and a third was shot down in southern Syria. A fourth fell out of the sky in May near the Lebanese village of Ayta ash Shab. And on July 4 of that year, a fifth crashed in southern Gaza, where Hamas claimed to have retrieved it. On July 18 2017, yet another crashed near Nablus, but was returned to Israeli hands by Palestinian security forces.

That apparently poor record follows a longer history of drone failures, including an August 2016 crash of an experimental Israel Aerospace Industries drone that destroyed part of a family home in the northern village of Zalafa, lightly injuring 25 people.

A Skylark also crashed in Gaza in August 2015, when Hamas claimed to have captured and reassembled it.

And in July 2015, Lebanon’s military claimed an Israeli drone crashed in the port of Tripoli in northern Lebanon.

Similar crashes were also reported in 2013 and 2014.

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