Spillover mortar fire from Syria again hits Golan Heights
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Spillover mortar fire from Syria again hits Golan Heights

No injuries or damage reported as errant shells strike northern Israel; US urges citizens to stay away from Golan

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: Smoke rises in a field on the Golan Heights, after two mortars fired from war-torn Syria struck the northern sector of the mountain plateau, April 28, 2015. (AFP/JALAA MAREY/File)
Illustrative: Smoke rises in a field on the Golan Heights, after two mortars fired from war-torn Syria struck the northern sector of the mountain plateau, April 28, 2015. (AFP/JALAA MAREY/File)

An errant mortar shell fired from Syria struck the northern Golan Heights Wednesday evening, the army said.

The projectile exploded in an open field near Israel’s border with Syria, causing no casualties or damage, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

It was the sixth such incident this week and came as fighting between President Bashar Assad’s regime and the numerous rebel groups in southern Syria escalated in recent weeks.

In light of the increased errant fire hitting the Golan Heights, the United States embassy in Israel urged American citizens “to carefully consider and possibly defer travel to that area until the situation stabilizes.”

In addition, the embassy temporarily forbade US government employees from “personal travel into the area north of Route 87 and east of Route 918 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.”

The recent upsurge in stray fire stems from the growing success of President Assad’s forces in recent days, which has forced rebel fighters into areas closer to the Israeli border, Israeli analysts said earlier this week.

Wednesday was the third day in a row that apparently errant fire from the fighting in Syria landed inside Israeli territory.

A total of four projectiles from Syria struck the Golan Heights on Monday and Tuesday, also thought to be errant fire, shortly after a ceasefire brokered by Russia and the United States took effect in Syria.

In response to the incidents, Israeli jets targeted Syrian regime artillery batteries near the border early Tuesday morning and then again late that night.

Following the early morning strike, Syrian state media announced Tuesday that Assad’s forces had shot down an Israeli plane and a drone — a claim firmly dismissed by Israel.

The civil war in Syria has generated a number of such incidents over the years, and will likely continue to do so in the future.

The IDF frequently retaliates against stray missile strikes inside Israeli territory.

Israel has said it will not tolerate any such spillover projectiles and holds the Syrian regime responsible for all errant fire, regardless of the source. However, the army clarified that it “will not hesitate to act against any opposition forces in Syria.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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