IDF tanks strike Syrian army post after errant mortar fire

Israeli military says it won’t tolerate violations of sovereignty, amid increased tensions along border

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

An IDF Merkava tank drives near the border with Syria on the Golan Heights on November 28, 2016. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
An IDF Merkava tank drives near the border with Syria on the Golan Heights on November 28, 2016. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

Israeli tanks struck a Syrian army mortar position near the city of Quneitra on Thursday, hours after a shell from Syria landed in the northern Golan Heights, the Israel Defense Forces said.

On Thursday afternoon, the mortar shell landed in an open field on the Golan Heights in an apparent case of spillover fire from the fighting in Syria, the army said.

There were no reports of injuries or property damage.

In response to the shelling, Israeli tanks stationed near the border fired back at the Syrian military position on Thursday evening. The IDF said the mortar position it attacked was the same one that fired the shell earlier in the day.

“The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsible for any aggression from within its territory, and will not tolerate any attacks threatening the Israeli sovereignty and the safety of its civilians,” the army said.

No siren was sounded as the warning system detected the projectile would land in an uninhabited area.

There has been an apparent uptick in the fighting on the Syrian side of the border, between rebel militias and dictator Bashar Assad’s army.

On Wednesday afternoon, rocket sirens rang out in IDF bases in the Golan Heights, set off by internal fighting across the border.

The spillover also came after Israeli jets bombed an anti-aircraft battery near Damascus earlier in the week, which had fired on an Israeli plane.

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Israel had “all the tools needed to deal” with the challenge of Iran in Syria, one of the strongest backers of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“The Iranians are trying to take control of Syria to become the dominant power there,” he said.

Also Wednesday, Iran’s military chief of staff warned that Tehran would not tolerate violations of Syrian sovereignty by Israel and vowed that the two countries would jointly fight against Syria’s enemies.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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