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The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) says it intercepted an Iranian-built drone launched from Syria by Hezbollah which illegally entered Israeli airspace on Tuesday.
IDF intelligence says the unmanned aerial vehicle was launched from Damascus Military Airport by Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and infiltrated Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights.
BREAKING: A short while ago, the IAF intercepted a UAV that attempted to infiltrate Israeli airspace in the Golan Heights
— Israeli Air Force (@IAFsite) September 19, 2017
In a strongly-worded statement, a spokesman for the IDF said it will respond swiftly to any incursions on its airspace.
“Our message is that the IDF will not allow any violation of Israeli sovereignty,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
“We will not allow Iranian forces, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, or Shiite militias of any kind to approach Israel’s borders. We will defend our borders, and if any such attempts to violate our sovereignty will be made, we will respond swiftly.”
Israel views Hezbollah – which has a suspected arsenal of more than 100,000 rockets and thousands of fighters – as its one of its main threats.
The IDF says the drone was being used for a reconnaissance mission along the border and in the Golan Heights. The Israeli Air Force says it intercepted it in the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria and shot it down using a Patriot missile.
The incident comes a day after the US opened its first official permanent military base in Israel. The move is being interpreted as an effort to send a message to Israel’s enemies.
In a speech at the official opening Maj. Gen. John Gronski, deputy commander of US Army National Guard in Europe, said the base “symbolizes the strong bond that exists between the United States and Israel.”
Earlier this month the Israeli army carried out its largest drill in 20 years, simulating a war with Hezbollah.