Syria says it captured explosives-laden drone near Golan border
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Syria says it captured explosives-laden drone near Golan border

State news agency also reports Syrian forces found Israeli-made vehicles and material in village near Quneitra

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows a drone which the Syrian state news agency says authorities have controlled and dismantled and was rigged with cluster bombs on the edge of the Israeli Golan Heights, southern Syria, September 21, 2019. (SANA via AP)
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows a drone which the Syrian state news agency says authorities have controlled and dismantled and was rigged with cluster bombs on the edge of the Israeli Golan Heights, southern Syria, September 21, 2019. (SANA via AP)

Syria’s state news agency said authorities have captured and dismantled a drone rigged with cluster bombs near the border with the Israeli Golan Heights.

SANA gave no further details about the drone Saturday, but posted several photos.

The news agency also reported that Syrian forces found Israeli-made vehicles and materiel in Bariqa, a village near the deserted border city of Quneitra.

Israel frequently conducts airstrikes and missile attacks inside war-torn Syria but rarely confirms them. Israel says it targets mostly bases of Iranian forces and the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah in Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said it was not clear if Syrian troops or members of Hezbollah controlled the drone. Hezbollah has fighters in different parts of Syria where they are fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.

The incident came two days after another drone was destroyed over the Damascus suburb of Aqraba.

No one claimed responsibility for the drones.

Aqrabah was the site of an Israeli airstrike last month that targeted Iranian-aligned operatives planning to send attack drones into Israel, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

According to the Israeli military, the Quds Force, a unit in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, had attempted to send drones from Syria loaded with explosives into Israel to target its military installations and national infrastructure.

In neighboring Lebanon, a government investigation concluded Thursday that two alleged Israeli drones were on an attack mission when they crashed in the capital last month, one of them armed with 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) of explosives.

Lebanese Minister of Defense Elias Bou Saab shows the box that he alleged carried explosives in a captured drone that fell over a southern Beirut suburb as he speaks during a press conference in the Ministry of Defense in Yarze, on September 19, 2019. (Joseph Eid/AFP)

The type of UAV used in the Beirut attack has raised considerable questions about the drones’ provenance, with analysts suggesting they could be Iranian.

Hours before the incident, Israel said it had thwarted an Iranian plot in Syria to launch drones with explosives into Israel.

Israeli media have reported that the drones in Beirut targeted an office housing a “planetary mixer,” a large industrial machine that is critical to making precision-guided missiles. Hezbollah denies it produces such weapons in Lebanon.

Israel has said it would not allow the group to have precision-guided missiles, as that would be a game-changing technology.

Israel considers Iran to be its greatest enemy, and the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah to be its most immediate military threat. Hezbollah has a battle-tested army that has been fighting alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria’s civil war.

Israel has acknowledged carrying out scores of airstrikes in Syria aimed at preventing alleged Iranian arms transfers to Hezbollah. But in August, Israel was believed to have widened its campaign and struck Iranian or Hezbollah targets in Iraq and Lebanon as well.

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