Syria says it downed warplane, drone near Golan Heights; Israel denies

 syria-says-it-downed-warplane-drone-near-golan-heights-israel-denies. JERUSALEM,  Israel Defense Forces has rejected Syrian claims that its military destroyed an Israeli warplane and drone early Tuesday near Golan Heights.

Israeli soldiers observe the Israeli-Syrian border from Mt. Bental overlooking the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on August 26, 2015. On Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces rejected claims from the Syrian military that it shot down Israeli aircraft. File Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI | License Photo

The incident began Monday night when artillery from Syria fell into Golan Heights, a disputed territory occupied by Israel. The artillery fire is believed to have been spillover from fighting in Syria by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. No casualties occurred.

The Israeli air force responded by conducting missions overnight to target Syrian regime artillery positions.

In a statement, the General Command of the Syrian Armed Forces said the shooting down of the Israeli warplane and drone occurred at 1:30 a.m. local time after Israeli warplanes attacked a Syrian military position in southern al-Quneitra — near the border with Golan Heights.

The Syrian military said the warplane was shot down southwest of al-Quneitra, while the drone was downed west of the town of SaaSaa.

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner’s office confirmed the Israeli operations occurred and said the Syrian regime fired two surface-to-air missiles in response, but said the claim Syria downed Israeli aircraft was “completely false,” adding that “at no point was the safety of IDF aircraft compromised.”

Eli Malka, who serves as the head of the Golan Regional Council, said that though the artillery fire from Syria into Golan Heights is not believed to have been intentional, he said “there is no difference between spillover fire and intentional fire — a bomb is a bomb and poses a risk to human life.”

“It is the responsibility of the Minister of Defense and the IDF to convey a clear message to all parties on the other side of the border that all shots fired in the Golan will be treated as firing on Israel and the IDF will respond by destructing the source of the fire,” Malka said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

On Monday, a cease-fire — supported by both Russia and the United States — between Assad’s regime and a consolidated group of Syrian rebels began. The cease-fire will allow humanitarian aid to reach the millions of Syrians that require help due to the half-decade civil war.

By Andrew V. Pestano