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Video Shows Israeli Drone Reportedly Downed in Syria

Syrian state TV released footage that purportedly shows an Israeli Skylark 1 drone, complete with Hebrew stickers, that was brought down over the border region of Quneitra on Sunday.
December 22, 2014, 3:49pm
Screengrab via YouTube/SANA

An unmanned Israeli drone on a reconnaissance mission was brought down above the town of Hadar in the Syrian border province of Quneitra on Sunday night, according to Syrian state television.

Video footage purported to be of the downed drone appears to show a largely intact Skylark 1, complete with Hebrew stickers.

The Skylark 1 unmanned miniature aerial vehicle model is produced by Israeli international defense company Elbit Systems, but is also in operation with militaries in several other countries including: Australia, Canada, Poland, and Sweden.

New evidence suggests Israel is helping Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights. Read more here.

According to local media, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) say they have no knowledge of losing any drone in Syria.

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Quneitra province, the scene of fierce fighting during two wars between Israel and Syria in 1967 and 1973, now lies in the UN supervised demilitarized zone between the countries that are still technically at war with each other. However, the final group of UN international observers on the Syrian side of the border were forced to flee their position in October this year, after a militant rebel group overran their checkpoint and held the team of 45 Fijians captive for two weeks.

The peacekeeping team still maintains its vantage point base in the Israeli Golan Heights, however, where observers sometimes mingle with thrill-seeking tourists who hike up the plateau for a unique bird's eye view of ongoing fights between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and the al Nusra Front — an al Qaeda affiliate now believed to control much of the Syrian side of the strategically important border.

Repeated spillovers from the war-next-door, that has raged for nearly four years, are increasingly testing Israel's capacity to remain a neutral bystander in the conflict.

In early December, the Syrian army accused Israeli jets of carrying out two airstrikes near Damascus international airport in an act it described as "direct aggression" carried out to help the government's opponents.

Local media reports, however, suggest that the strike was not related to the civil war per se, but rather targeted a Iranian weapons supply cache destined for Israel's longtime foe Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia Islamist militant group, whose fighters have also fought in Syria alongside Assad's soldiers. Israel's military said it was unable to comment on "foreign reports."

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The War Next Door (Part 3): Watch the VICE News documentary here.

On other occasions Israel has openly fired on Syrian army positions after both errant and intentional mortar hits that have strayed across its border, including in response to one incident where a 15-year-old Israeli citizen was killed while carrying out maintenance work on the border fence with his father.

In two separate incidents in September alone, the IDF reported that it had shot down a Syrian fighter jet and a drone after they strayed into Israeli airspace above the Golan Heights.

In another sign that Israel is increasingly unable to sit on the sidelines as a silent observer in the conflict, the IDF recently revealed to VICE News that it had been providing medical assistance, including treatment in Israeli hospitals, to injured Syrian rebel fighters for at least one year.

Although Israel has branded the aid "humanitarian" the information provided to VICE News showed around 90 percent of those treated were young males.

Follow Harriet Salem on Twitter: @HarrietSalem