July 17, 2016 / 4:04 PM / a year ago

Israel launches anti-aircraft missiles at Syrian drone: army

2 Min Read

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel on Sunday fired missiles toward an unmanned drone that entered Israeli-controlled airspace from Syria and it turned back, the military said in a statement.

"Two Patriot air defense missiles were fired toward a drone which infiltrated Israeli airspace in the central Golan Heights. The drone returned to Syria," the Israeli army said.

A military spokeswoman said there were no known casualties.

Israel has often responded to errant mortar fire from the civil war in neighboring Syria on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights with tank and mortar shells and with air strikes, but the use of Patriot anti-aircraft interceptor missiles is unusual.

A Syrian rebel source in the area said the Syrian army had launched a rare air raid on al-Shajara village along the Jordanian border. The village, which is also close to the Israeli frontier, is held by the Shuhada al-Yarmouk group, who are thought to be Islamic State affiliates.

Though formally neutral on the civil war, Israel has frequently pledged to prevent shipments of advanced weaponry to Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, whose fighters have been allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Two months ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had launched dozens of strikes in Syria.

The Golan Heights is a strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East, and annexed in a move that has not won international recognition.

Additional reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman, Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Andrew Bolton

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