Israel shoots down Syria drone; Netanyahu meets Putin

Israeli soldiers at an army base in the Golan Heights look out across the border with Syria

Israeli soldiers at an army base in the Golan Heights look out across the border with Syria

The Golan Heights was illegally captured by Israel in 1967 and annexed in 1981.

The incident took place as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow to stress to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Israel will not tolerate an Iranian military presence in Syria.

The drone was an intelligence-gathering aircraft and belonged to the Syrian government and its remains have already been retrieved just south of the Sea of Galilee, nearly ten kilometers (six miles) inside Israel, an army spokesman told reporters.

Here is a video of the Patriot being fired at the drone.

Israel held out the prospect of eventual contact with Syria under President Bashar al-Assad's rule, in a nod to pro-government forces recapturing most territories held by rebels over the seven-year-old civil war that Israeli officials had initially predicted would topple him.

Israel has warned Iran, which is allied with the Syrian government, against building up a military presence on its doorstep.

"We will continue to act decisively against any spillover and any infiltration of Israeli territory or airspace", Netanyahu said.

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 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".

Iran is backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the war, as is Russian Federation.

On Sunday, Syria accused Israel of attacking an air force base near Homs that was known to be housing Iranian forces.

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

"We chose to bring with us two wonderful children who are bravely fighting cancer: Mika, whom my wife and I have known for nine years, and Alon, whose parents emigrated from Russian Federation and who likes soccer very much". The United Nations last month renewed the mandate of its Golan observer force UNDOF and on Wednesday called on all parties to abide by the 44-year-old armistice arrangements.

According to the spokesman, the delay was due to initial uncertainty over who was operating the drone, specifically if it was being flown by Russian Federation, whose air force has been flying extensive missions over southern Syria to support dictator Bashar Assad's offensive against two rebel-held provinces in the area.

Israel shot down an unarmed drone that entered its airspace from Syria on Wednesday afternoon local time, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.

"A few hours ago, a Syrian aircraft infiltrated Israel's airspace", he said.

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