Israel says shot down Iranian-made, Hezbollah-operated drone

A unit of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile is seen after North Korea's missile launch, at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, in this September 15, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 September 2017
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Israel says shot down Iranian-made, Hezbollah-operated drone

JERUSALEM: Israel’s military fired a Patriot missile on Tuesday to bring down what it said was an Iranian-made drone operated by Hezbollah on a reconnaissance mission over the Golan Heights.
The drone took off from a Damascus military airport before entering the demilitarized zone approaching the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights, said Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus.
“We scrambled fighter jets but they did not engage the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle),” Conricus said.
“It was instead shot down by one Patriot missile that was fired by Israeli air defense soldiers.”
He said details of the drone were still being evaluated, including whether or not it was armed. It fell in the buffer zone between the Israeli- and Syrian-controlled parts of the Golan.
Israel and Syria are still technically at war, though the armistice line on the Golan Heights had remained largely quiet for decades until civil war erupted in Syria in 2011. Israel seized 1,200 sq. km of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
In April, Israel used a Patriot missile to shoot down what it identified as “a target” over the Golan Heights, with Israeli media reports saying it was a drone.
It has also seen regular spillover fire from the conflict in Syria and acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes there to stop advanced arms deliveries to Hezbollah.
Earlier this month, Syria’s regime accused Israeli warplanes of hitting one of its positions, killing two people in an attack that a monitor said targeted a site where the regime allegedly produces chemical weapons.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is due to address the UN General Assembly later Tuesday, has boosted his criticism of Iran and Hezbollah in recent months.
He has particularly spoken out about Iran’s presence in Syria, where it is backing President Bashar Assad’s regime, like Hezbollah.
When meeting US President Donald Trump on Monday, Netanyahu said he wanted to focus on the Iranian threat and Tehran’s growing clout in Syria.
During a visit by UN chief Antonio Guterres last month, Netanyahu accused Iran of building sites to produce “precision-guided missiles” in both Syria and Lebanon.
On Tuesday, Conricus said “it is not the first time that we see Hezbollah operating UAVs for reconnaissance missions,” but added that Israel decided to shoot it down after it entered the buffer zone.
He said the decision to do so had no link with Netanyahu’s speech later in the day in which he is expected to focus on Iran.
Israel’s military “will not allow any breach of Israeli sovereignty or any hostile attempts by organizations like Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad, Iranian terror organizations and Shiite militias to harm the Israeli state and its citizens and we will respond swiftly and forcefully to any such attempts,” he said.


Turkish air strikes kill 15 Kurdish militants in northern Iraq

Updated 30 min 25 sec ago
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Turkish air strikes kill 15 Kurdish militants in northern Iraq

  • The Turkish military said it carried out air strikes in northern Iraq on Friday, killing 15 Kurdish militants.
  • The strikes were carried out on the Gara region, the military said on Twitter.

ISTANBUL: The Turkish military said it carried out air strikes in northern Iraq on Friday, killing 15 Kurdish militants.
The strikes were carried out on the Gara region, the military said on Twitter.
Turkey has recently stepped up strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) bases in northern Iraq, especially its stronghold in the Qandil mountains.
Ankara has warned it might launch a ground offensive into Qandil, where high-ranking PKK members are believed to be based.
President Tayyip Erdogan, who faces tough elections on Sunday, has vowed to “drain the terror swamp” there.
More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK launched its insurgency in Turkey in 1984. It is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and European Union.