UN peacekeepers stationed in the Golan Heights along the Syrian-Israeli border observed drones coming from the Israeli side before and after an airstrike that killed Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general, the United Nations said Monday.
The flight of the drones in the airspace over the Golan Heights was a violation of the 1974 cease-fire deal between Syria and Israel, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said.
Hezbollah said Sunday that an Israeli helicopter strike in Syria killed one of its commanders and the son of the group’s late military leader Imad Mughniyeh.
Haq was asked if the UN observer mission deployed in the so-called area of separation in the Golan Heights, known as UNDOF, had seen anything. He said UNDOF had “observed two unmanned aerial vehicles flying from the Alpha side and crossing the cease-fire line.”
The Alpha side refers to the Israeli part of the Golan. Haq said UNDOF saw the drones moving toward UN position 30, after which the UN observers lost track of them.
An hour later, he said, they saw smoke coming from position 30, though they were unable to identify the source of the smoke.
“Subsequently, UNDOF observed UAVs flying from the general area of position 30 and over Jabbata crossing the cease-fire line,” Haq said. “This incident is a violation of the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces.”
“We criticize all violations,” he added, noting that the UN called on all sides to refrain from actions that could exacerbate already existing tensions.
Asked to react, Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari told Reuters: “Thank God. Finally the spokesperson woke up from his self-imposed lethargy.”
Haq offered no details on whether the drones were for surveillance or armed. He also did not say they were Israeli.
Sunday’s strike hit a convoy carrying Jihad Mughniyeh and Commander Mohammad Issa, known as Abu Issa, in Qunaitra province, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, killing six Hezbollah members in all, a Hezbollah statement said.
Israel has struck Syria several times since the start of the war, mostly destroying weaponry such as missiles that Israeli officials said were destined for Hezbollah.