Israeli tanks shelled an observation post set up by the Syrian military in a demilitarized part of the Golan Heights early Wednesday morning, Syrian reports said.
According to several local Syrian sources, the outpost near the village of al-Malgah in the Quneitra region was destroyed in the attack.
The Israel Defense Forces refused to comment, in line with its policy of not officially acknowledging specific strikes in Syria, save for those that are in retaliation for attacks against Israel.
Following the strike, Israeli aircraft dropped flyers near the border warning Syrian soldiers against operating in the demilitarized zone between the two countries, Syria’s pro-opposition Houran Radio reported.
The flyers, which were written in Arabic and addressed to the “commanders of the Syrian [Arab] Army,” matched the style of similar leaflets that have been dropped in Syria in the past and included the silhouette of an eagle — the symbol of the IDF’s 210th Bashan Division, which is tasked with defending Israel’s frontier with Syria and the Golan Heights.
“As we warned you previously, we will not tolerate any presence of the Syrian army as long as it continues to violate the disengagement agreement, by being in a demilitarized zone,” the flyer read.
The flyer also included images of Syrian soldiers allegedly seen operating in the demilitarized zone.
According to another pro-opposition Syrian source in the Golan Heights, the location was used by Iranian or Iran-backed forces. The claim could not be independently verified, but Israel has repeatedly accused the Syrian military of actively assisting the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in the area.
The IDF has warned the Syrian military against this, both through flyers dropped along the border and through overt public appeals, in some cases naming the Syrian and Hezbollah officials involved, including officers from Syria’s 90th Brigade and 1st Division.
Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria over the years and against Syrian military installations in cases where they were being used to attack Israel or Israeli forces.
Israel fears Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Hezbollah.
The demilitarized zone, which is about seven kilometers (4.3 miles) at its widest and 200 meters at its narrowest, was created after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Syria tried to retake the strategic plateau.
The Golan Heights was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War.