Is­rael re­tal­i­ates af­ter stray Syr­ian fire in Golan Heights

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Is­rael re­turned fire at Syr­ian army forces late Satur­day af­ter two stray ar­tillery rounds hit the Is­raeli-oc­cu­pied Golan Heights, the Is­raeli army said. “In re­sponse to pro­jec­tiles launched ear­lier to­day at Is­rael from Syria, Is­raeli forces tar­geted the Syr­ian mil­i­tary ar­tillery po­si­tion that was the source of the pre­vi­ous fire,” a state­ment said.

Ear­lier the army warned Syria to ex­pect re­tal­i­a­tion af­ter the rounds fell in the Is­raeli-con­trolled zone of the strate­gic plateau, the lat­est of a string of in­ci­dents across the armistice line. Both of Satur­day’s stray rounds were the “re­sult of in­ter­nal fight­ing in Syria,” the army said, adding that there were no re­ports of ca­su­al­ties. “Is­rael holds the Syr­ian regime re­spon­si­ble for any breach of its bor­ders and will act ac­cord­ingly,” chief mil­i­tary spokesman, Bri­gadier Gen­eral Ro­nen Manelis said. “Is­rael main­tains a pol­icy of non-in­volve­ment in the Syr­ian civil war.

How­ever, we will not tol­er­ate any breach of Is­rael’s sovereignty.” There has been re­peated stray fire across the armistice line for the past week as Syr­ian troops bat­tle rebels, in­clud­ing hard­line Is­lamists, on the other side. There have been no ca­su­al­ties on the Is­raeli side but the Jewish State has re­sponded to ev­ery in­ci­dent by strik­ing Syr­ian army po­si­tions. Rebels re­cently launched an of­fen­sive against Syr­ian govern­ment forces in Quneitra on the Syr­ian side of the armistice line.

Is­rael has con­ducted sev­eral air strikes in Syria since that coun­try’s civil war erupted in 2011. Most of it has been against arms con­voys or ware­houses of its Le­banese arch-foe Hezbol­lah. The Iran-backed move­ment is a key sup­porter of the Syr­ian regime and is fight­ing along­side govern­ment forces. In April, Is­rael shot down what it iden­ti­fied only as “a tar­get” over the Golan, hours af­ter Syria ac­cused it of hit­ting a mil­i­tary po­si­tion near Da­m­as­cus air­port. Is­rael did not con­firm or deny the re­ported Da­m­as­cus at­tack. Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said on Wed­nes­day that he would not tol­er­ate any spillover from the fight­ing in Syria.

“Our line is clear,” Ne­tanyahu said a He­brewlan­guage speech dur­ing a visit to the Golan. “We shall not per­mit rad­i­cal Is­lam, led by Iran or Daesh, to open a ter­ror­ist front against the state of Is­rael from the Syr­ian side of the Golan Heights,” he said us­ing the Ara­bic acro­nym for the Is­lamic State Ji­hadist group. Is­rael seized 1,200 square kilo­me­ters (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later an­nexed it in a move never recog­nised by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. Around 510 square kilo­me­ters are un­der Syr­ian con­trol. — AFP

QATZRIN, Is­rael: A gen­eral view shows a car driv­ing past a sign at the en­trance of the Jewish set­tle­ment of Qatzrin in the Is­raeli oc­cu­pied Golan Heights.— AFP

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