Syrians Report Israeli Drone Strike Kills Commander of pro-Assad Militia
Jack Khoury, Noa Shpigel, Gili Cohen, Haaretz, Mar 19 2017
According to Syrian reports on Sunday, a Syrian man was killed when the vehicle he was driving was fired on by an Israeli drone in the Quneitra area in the Syrian Golan Heights. The man has been identified as Yasser Assayed, but there have been conflicting reports as to his role. An official affiliated with the Syrian regime told Haaretz that Assayed was a member of the Golan Battalion, a mostly Druze militia that supports Assad. Al-Mayadin also reported that Assayed was not a member of the Shi’ite militia. According to the report, Assayed was with the national defense militia, which fights alongside regime troops. According to reports on Syrian opposition websites, Assayed was a senior officer in country’s air defense system. This follows an incident late on Thursday when IAF planes struck several targets over the Syrian border and Syria’s air defense system answered by firing an anti-aircraft missile at them. It was the most serious episode between Syria and Israel since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war six years ago. Israel’s Chetz (Arrow) anti-missile system shot down the Syrian missile, the first time the system has worked. Responding to the reports about the Syrian actions, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Sunday that if Syria’s air defense system fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli planes, Israel will destroy it. Also Sunday, Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Eisenkot said that Israel is focused on preventing Hezbollah from receiving shipments of advanced weapons. Eisenkot said at the change of command ceremony for the army’s GOC Northern Command:
The place of enemy armies is being taken by terror organizations and new threats. Thanks to your daily work, quiet has been maintained for more than a decade along Israel’s borders. The quiet enables people living on both sides of the border to maintain daily routines and economic growth. We shall make great efforts so that this can continue for many more years. Tzahal is busy monitoring changes in the Lebanese and Syrian sectors. In Lebanon, Hezbollah continues its efforts to rearm with lethal and more precise weaponry whose purpose is to hit the Israeli home front, thus violating UNSCR 1701 and introducing weapons into villages. The recent declarations from Beirut make it clear that in a future war, the targets will be clear. Lebanon and the organizations operating under its authority and its approval. We are protecting our security interests and acting to prevent weapons transfers to Hezbollah and will make every effort to prevent it in the future as well.