Syria on Sunday asked the United Nations to take measures against Israel for its alleged backing of the rebel forces working against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
At a meeting with Under Secretary-General of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said there was “clear indication of [Israel's] collaboration with terrorist groups (the term used by the regime to refer to rebel forces),” the official SANA news agency reported.
According SANA, Mikdad praised the UN’s recent report on the activities of the UN force monitoring the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), saying that Israeli air raids in Syria, notably the one in March in response to a bombing along the demilitarized zone, were proof that “pointed to direct ties with terrorist groups.”
On March 19, Syria said that an Israeli raid on an army position killed one soldier and wounded seven others.
Israel announced that it had carried out the air raids against Syrian army positions that “aided and abetted” an attack against Israeli troops the day before, March 18, in which four soldiers who were patrolling the Israeli side of the ceasefire line with Syria were wounded by a roadside bomb, one of them severely.
Syria, which has long accused the rebels fighting to oust Assad of ties to Israel, said at the time that the Jewish state’s strikes were intended to bolster the opposition.
Early Monday morning, hours after the meeting between the Syrian deputy FM and the UN official, the Israeli Air Force launched retaliatory air strikes on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, confirming direct hits on nine army positions belonging to the Assad regime. The raid came after a 15-year-old boy was killed earlier Sunday in an attack on the Israeli side.
“The IDF targeted nine Syrian army positions in response to the earlier attack that originated in Syria killing an Israeli teenager and injuring two other Israeli civilians. The targeted sites include Syrian [regional] military headquarters and launching positions,” the IDF said in a statement.
Syria did not formally respond to news of the air raids. Opposition forces reported that the command center hit in the strikes belonged to the 90th Brigade of the Syrian Army.
The sudden burst of violence has added to the tense situation in Israel, where forces have spent the past week and half in a broad ground operation in the West Bank in search of three teenagers believed to have been abducted by Hamas.
Israel has carefully monitored the fighting in Syria, but has generally kept its distance and avoided taking sides.
Israel has responded in the past to cross border fire with targeted strikes on Syrian positions, and planes have reportedly also hit Syrian missile shipments headed for Hezbollah deep inside the war-torn country, though Israel has never confirmed those strikes.
IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Sunday’s deadly attack on a car in the Golan Heights, which killed Mohammed Karkara and injured three others, was “an unprovoked act of aggression against Israel, and a direct continuation to recent attacks that occurred in the area.”
Military officials said the car was hit by anti-tank fire from an area under the control of Assad regime forces, though one rebel commander told the Times of Israel it was possible the regime had targeted the car with a heat-seeking missile. In response, Israeli tanks fired at Syrian army positions.
“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to breach Israel’s sovereignty and will act in order to safeguard the civilians of the State of Israel,” Lerner said.
Karkara, from the town of Arraba in the Lower Galillee, was killed in the attack and his father, a civilian contractor, and two others were injured while delivering water to workers on the border fence.
Three weeks ago, IDF forces fired artillery shells at a target in Syria after a mortar shell fired from the war-torn country hit Mount Hermon.