Israel shells Syria in retaliation for mortar hitting Golan
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Israel shells Syria in retaliation for mortar hitting Golan

Opposition media reports barrage in village in demilitarized zone; Syrian state news says planes caused ‘material damage’

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

A large fire raging near Kfar Sold, caused by missiles fired from the Syrian side of the Israeli-Syrian border and hitting open areas in the Golan Heights in northern Israel on August 20, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
A large fire raging near Kfar Sold, caused by missiles fired from the Syrian side of the Israeli-Syrian border and hitting open areas in the Golan Heights in northern Israel on August 20, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Israel targeted Syrian Army artillery in the Golan Heights Sunday night, hours after a mortar shell landed on the Israeli side of the DMZ.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the Israeli retaliation. Syrian opposition sources reported intense shelling of the village of Hamidiyah, in the demilitarized zone, around the time of the response.

“The IDF holds the Syrian government accountable for this blatant breach of Israeli sovereignty, and will continue to act in order to safeguard Israel,” the army said in a statement.

A Syrian Army official later responded to the IDF strike, telling the official Syrian state news agency that “the Israeli enemy continued to support terrorist organizations by attacking Mashati Hadar area in the countryside of Quneitra province with two rockets fired from a reconnaissance aircraft, causing material damage.”

Israel’s retaliatory strike came a few hours after a stray mortar shell fired from Syria hit a road in the central Golan Heights.

No injuries were reported in that incident, but the mortar damaged a roadway.

Syrian opposition media reports around the time of the earlier incident said forces in Tel al-Sha’ar, a village near the demilitarized zone separating Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, fired artillery at troops in Hamidiyah, a village in the DMZ. A report posted on Twitter by the Step News Agency wasn’t clear about which force was responsible for the fire. Clashes were also reported in the nearby village of Jubata al-Hashab.

Israel frequently retaliates against stray fire from Syria that strikes the Golan Heights. Last month a mortar round hit a minefield in the Israeli Golan, causing no damage or injuries. In response, the IDF targeted a Syrian Army target on the opposite side of the DMZ.

The Syrian Golan has been the site of intense fighting in recent years between Assad regime forces and the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate.

More recently, the area has seen burgeoning activity by Hezbollah and Iran’s al-Quds Force aimed at opening a new potential front against Israel in any future conflict.

A number of mortars have landed in Israeli territory as a result of spillover fighting over the last several years, raising fears among residents near the border.

Israel maintains a policy of holding Damascus responsible for all fire from Syria into Israel regardless of the source of the fire.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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