Israeli air strikes hit southwest Syria: Damascus state media


Syrian military air defenses have repelled an Israeli attack on the country's Quneitra province, Syrian state media report.

Earlier, the Israeli army announced it was targeting three Syrian military positions in response to a drone launched from Syria which breached Israeli airspace on Wednesday before Israel downed it.

Israeli Patriot missiles shot down a Syrian drone that infiltrated 10 kilometers into Israel's air space. The army said it will "not allow any violation of Israeli airspace and will act against any attempt to hurt our civilians".

The anti-aircraft alarm system went off earlier on Wednesday in the Golan Heights, which are controlled by Israel, and in the Jordan River valley.

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According to Haaretz, the drone was tracked after it went about 6 miles into Israeli territory.

Israel has been on high alert recently as Syrian rebels have advanced on the Golan area.

In the heaviest Israeli firing since the start of the Syrian War, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the strikes killed at least 23 military personnel, including Syrians and non-Syrians.

Syria lost control of the Golan Heights to Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967.

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For Israel, the medical aid programme can help win hearts and minds in border areas where the number of refugees has increased in recent weeks as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces advance in an offensive to recover southwest Syria.

Israeli cabinet ministers threatened this week there would be fire on Syrian forces that enter the Golan buffer zone set up as part of a 1974 United Nations-monitored armistice.

"We are still looking into why it crossed, whether it was on a military mission and crossed on goal, or it strayed", said Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman.

But on Tuesday, Israel also signalled openness to eventual ties with Syria under Assad, a tacit acknowledgement that he was re-consolidating power as he beats back the rebels.

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On Tuesday, Netanyahu met with Russian envoys Alexander Lavrentiev and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin, in Jerusalem, reiterating again Israel's objection to an Iranian presence in Syria.