Syria: Israeli drone over Quneitra forced to retreat by anti-aircraft fire
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Syria: Israeli drone over Quneitra forced to retreat by anti-aircraft fire

State media outlets claims UAV entered southern Syrian airspace as sides continued to trade threats after weekend clash

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Smoke and explosions from fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels, in the Quneitra area, seen from the Golan Heights, June 17, 2015. (AP/Ariel Schalit/ File)
Smoke and explosions from fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels, in the Quneitra area, seen from the Golan Heights, June 17, 2015. (AP/Ariel Schalit/ File)

Syrian state media reported that the country’s anti-aircraft guns fired at an Israeli drone as it flew over the southwestern Syrian city of Quneitra, forcing it to retreat Wednesday evening.

The Israeli military said it would not comment on the reports.

“Syrian air defense confronts an Israeli reconnaissance plane over Quneitra, forces it to leave the Syrian spaces,” the official Sana news outlet reported.

The report came days after Israel, Syria and Iran exchanged blows in one of the most significant clashes between the sides since the Syrian civil war began in 2011.

Before dawn on Saturday, an Iranian drone was flown into Israeli airspace near the Jordanian border before it was shot down by an Israeli attack helicopter.

Israel then conducted a series of airstrikes against positions in Syria, including the Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle’s mobile command center, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

During the raid, an F-16 was hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile over northern Israel and crashed. In response, the air force carried out a second bombing run, destroying a significant amount of Syria’s air defense systems, the IDF said. An officials said he believed half of Syria’s air defenses had been knocked out.

Earlier Wednesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said his country would shoot down any jet that threatened it.

“The Syrian Arab Army will down any jet that launches an assault on Syria,” he said. “That is not a mere threat.”

In Israel, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman hinted that Israel would continue carrying out airstrikes where necessary, calling on Syria and Iran “to not be silly” or “provocative.”

On Tuesday, a senior Syrian official warned Israel that it would face “surprises” if it launches any attacks on his country, claiming the Jewish state mistakenly thinks Syrian forces are incapable of defending the country.

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