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IDF strikes Syrian military targets in response to attempted border attack

Military says it holds Damascus responsible for Sunday incident in the Golan, in which 4 militants planted bombs inside Israeli territory before they were killed by IDF troops

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

Syrian air defenses respond to alleged Israeli missiles targeting south of the capital Damascus, on July 20, 2020. (AFP)
Syrian air defenses respond to alleged Israeli missiles targeting south of the capital Damascus, on July 20, 2020. (AFP)

The Israeli military conducted a series of airstrikes on Syrian military targets late Monday night in response to an attempted attack on the border in the Golan Heights the night before, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The IDF said it bombed Syrian observation posts, intelligence gathering equipment, anti-aircraft cannons, and command-and-control infrastructure.

“IDF fighter jets, attack helicopters, and other aircraft attacked Syrian Army targets in southern Syria, in response to the bomb-planting incident that was thwarted yesterday in the southern Golan Heights,” the IDF said.

“The IDF sees the Syrian regime as responsible for all activities that occur in its territory and will continue to act with determination against all violations of the sovereignty of the State of Israel,” the military said in a statement.

Syrian state media confirmed that attacks took place. The official SANA news outlet reported that the country’s air defenses were activated by the incoming missiles, which targeted sites southwest of Damascus.

SANA quoted a military source as saying the attack caused only material damage and no injuries.

IDF footage showing a group of four people whom the IDF says crossed into Israeli territory and tried to plant a bomb in an unmanned outpost on August 2, 2020. (Screen capture: Israel Defense Forces)

On Sunday night, Israeli troops spotted a group of four suspects entering Israeli territory — while still remaining on the Syrian side of the security fence — and planting a number of explosives near an unmanned IDF post.

A special forces team on the ground and aircraft opened fire at the militants, killing them. No Israeli soldiers were injured.

On Monday night, the Haaretz daily reported that the military believed that an Iranian proxy militia was responsible for the attempted attack, not Hezbollah, with which Israel has been in a standoff over the past two weeks.

Over the past two weeks, the Lebanese terror group has threatened some form of retaliation for the death of one of its fighters in Syria in an airstrike that it attributed to Israel, but which the Jewish state has not officially acknowledged conducting.

The IDF did not immediately confirm the report.

The military said troops who searched the area of Sunday’s night’s attempted attack found a gun, as well as a backpack with several more bombs, ready for use.

The items were found inside Israeli territory, 25 meters from the border, the army said.

The army said military officers met with UNDOF’s Maj. Gen. Ishwar Hamal in the afternoon to show the UN peacekeepers the scene of the incident.

“At the meeting, the division commander emphasized that the IDF would not allow the security of the residents of the State of Israel and its sovereignty to be harmed, and that the IDF considers the State of Syria responsible for everything that happens on its territory,” the army said in a statement.

The army also released video of the incident, showing figures approaching a fence near the border and being hit with a missile.

According to the IDF, the outpost where the men placed the explosive was located in an enclave in the area of Tel Fares along the border that previously housed a clinic operated by a Christian charity, under the auspices of the IDF, to treat Syrian civilians who were affected by the country’s civil war. It was closed when Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s forces retook the Syrian Golan in 2018.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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