Israel fires missile at drone that entered from Syria

Israel seized a large swathe of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, in a move never recognised by the worldwide community.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian Federation on Wednesday that its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would be safe from Israel, but Moscow should encourage Iranian forces quit Syria, a senior Israeli official said.

Israel says it has not taken sides in the Syrian civil war, but has bombed targets repeatedly in the war-torn country, typically weapons transfers to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group and regional rival, and sites affiliated with Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian Federation on Wednesday that Israel does not intend to threaten Bashar al-Assad's regime and asked Moscow to work to remove Iranian forces from Syria, an Israeli official said.

The drone flew for 16 minutes before it was intercepted. "I am not sure that they are counting on the right man. Israel's real card in Syria may be Assad".

The IDF's top spokesman, Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, said that "the IDF will not allow violation of Israeli airspace and will act against any attempt to harm its citizens".

An Israeli official said Wednesday night Netanyahu told Putin that Israel will not seek to unseat Assad from power, while urging Moscow to remove Iranian troops from the country, according to an Israeli official.

"We will discuss Syria, we will discuss Iran, we will discuss Israel's security needs", Netanyahu told reporters before departing.

"At the meeting [with Putin], the prime minister will make clear that Israel will not tolerate military entrenchment by Iran or its proxies anywhere in Syria, and that Syria must abide meticulously by the 1974 separation agreement", an official Israeli statement said.

"We are still looking into why it crossed - whether it was on a military mission and crossed on objective, or it strayed", he said, while adding that the latter scenario was "not common".

However, the army did not clarify whether the unmanned aerial vehicle was intercepted over the Golan Heights, which Israel occupied during the 1967 war with Syria.

Under Assad family rule, Syria held direct negotiations with Israel in the United States in 2000 and indirect talks mediated by Turkey in 2008.

"Any Syrian soldier found in the buffer zone is endangering his life, " Lieberman said while touring the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Vanessa Coleman

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