Syria thwarts Israeli strike on Quneitra

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian Federation on Wednesday that Israel would not seek to topple Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad but that Moscow, his key ally, should encourage Iranian forces to quit Syria, a senior Israeli official said.

Israeli Patriot missiles shot down a Syrian drone that infiltrated 10 kilometers into Israel's air space.

Both the United States and Israel are concerned about Iran's growing military presence in Syria, where it has provided crucial aid to Assad's forces. The province borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

"They [Russia] have an active interest in seeing a stable Assad regime and we in getting the Iranians out".

"We were afraid in the beginning to come (because we regarded Israelis) as Zionists and enemies", said one woman, who brought her son for treatment.

David Keyes, a Netanyahu spokesman, denied that the prime minister made that statement to Mr Putin.

The patients, Israeli medical officials said, were not the walking wounded of the seven-year-old Syrian civil war but children with chronic health problems coming across the frontier for a day's treatment in a hospital in northern Israel. "We will act against anyone who acts against us".

Israel is particularly anxious about the presence of Damascus ally Iran next door in Syria.

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. The interception set off air raid sirens on the Golan and nearby Jordanian border.

Lieberman has also stepped up rhetoric against the Syrian military warning them not to enter a buffer zone in the Syrian Golan Heights established after a 1973 war with Israel. He said a stray drone was "not common".

"Missile strikes hit the area of Hadar in the north of Quneitra, and others hit positions of the regime forces and their allies near the Baath town and Jaba village", the monitor said.

There were no reports of casualties afrer the attack, either from Israel or Syria. Mr Netanyahu's government has made clear it would not now cede the Golan and has been lobbying for USA recognition of Israel's claim of sovereignty there.

In February, Israel intercepted what it said was an armed drone sent into its territory by Iran.

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