The Israel Defense Forces launched a Patriot interceptor missile at a drone that was heading toward Israeli airspace from Syria, prompting the incoming unmanned aerial vehicle to beat a retreat, the army said.
“As a result, the aircraft fled from the border. No interception was reported,” the army said in a statement.
The drone was being used as part of the Syrian military’s activities in the Quneitra region, near the Israeli Golan Heights, a commander in the coalition supporting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad later told the Reuters news service.
The IDF did not immediately identify the operator of the drone.
The military said its systems spotted the incoming aircraft and fired at it before the UAV reached the border.
“The IDF will not allow a violation of the aerial sovereignty of the State of Israel and will take action against any attempt to harm its citizens,” the army said.
Residents of northern Israel quickly began sharing photographs and videos showing the white trail left behind, apparently by the Patriot launch.
נראה ונשמע כמו שיגור טיל פטריוט לעבר מטרה חשודה. פרטים בהמשך. pic.twitter.com/7uqJ6LwaB8
— מבזקים ודיווחים (@S0503281) June 24, 2018
In recent days, fighting has intensified near Israel’s border with Syria, as dictator Bashar Assad’s forces, aided by the Russian military, move in on one of the last remaining areas of rebel-controlled territory in the country.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor on Sunday said that at least 23 people, including women and children, had been killed by pro-regime forces in the latest round of violence. Fifteen pro-Assad fighters were also reportedly killed by Syrian rebels.
On Sunday, intensive clashes were reported near the southern Syria city of Daraa, with dozens of airstrikes that local activists said were carried out by the Russian air force.
Jerusalem and Moscow maintain close ties in order to prevent accidental clashes and conflicts between their militaries.
شريط مصور للمرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان، يرصد إسقاط صاروخ إسرائيلي لطائرة في سماء حوض اليرموك، خلال تحليقها على مقربة من الجولان السوري المحتل
Posted by المرصد السوري on Sunday, 24 June 2018
Yet incidents have nevertheless occurred. In July 2016, a Russian drone entered Israeli airspace, apparently by accident. The air force fired three Patriot missiles at the UAV, but failed to bring it down. Ultimately, the aircraft returned to Syrian territory.
Last year, the Israel Defense Forces used the Patriot missile defense system on at least three occasions in order to shoot down incoming drones from Syria.
In April 2017, a Syrian military drone was shot down by a Patriot missile. In September of that year, the American-made system also intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle that was flown by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group.
And in November 2017, the military shot down another Syrian military drone that approached Israeli airspace.