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IDF says stray fire from Syria hits UN position in Golan Heights

Army says no signs of mortar fire, explosions apparently caused by brush fire in minefield

An Israeli tourist looks at the Syrian side of the border from Mount Bental, in the Golan Heights, on June 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)
An Israeli tourist looks at the Syrian side of the border from Mount Bental, in the Golan Heights, on June 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)

The IDF on Monday said that stray fire from Syria hit a United Nations peacekeeping position in the Golan Heights. No injuries were reported.

The army launched searches following reports that two mortars had landed on the Israeli side of the frontier, but no signs of shelling were found.

Instead, “heavy machine gun bullet holes were identified in a UNDOF post near Zivanit, adjacent to the border,” the army said.

The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force monitors a 1974 ceasefire between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights.

The army also said that despite the reports of incoming mortar shells, no warning sirens were heard.

The sounds of explosions were apparently caused after some of the bullets set off a brush fire in a minefield along the border.

Tensions have been high in the area following two incidents of errant shelling landing in Israel. the IDF with force, targeting Syrian army installations, which Israel holds responsible for all incidents originating from Syrian soil.

Around 10 mortar shells from Syria struck the Golan Heights on Saturday, prompting an Israeli response that reportedly killed two Syrian soldiers. On Sunday, several more projectiles hit Israel, in what the army said was spillover fire from fighting between regime forces and rebels.

The IDF on Sunday again responded to the errant fire, confirming it targeted a Syrian military vehicle. Arabic media reports said five people were injured in the Israeli raid.

Archive photo: An Israeli army tank is seen stationed near the Golan Heights village of Majdal Shams, March 19, 2014. (AFP/Jalaa Marey)
Archive photo: An Israeli army tank is seen stationed near the Golan Heights village of Majdal Shams, March 19, 2014. (AFP/Jalaa Marey)

The regime said that three Syrian soldiers had been killed by Israeli fire, although it did not provide a date or any other information on when they were killed.

In response to the IDF strikes, the Syrian military said that it “holds the Israeli enemy responsible for the grave consequences of these repeated actions.”

In Sunday’s strike, the IDF “targeted two artillery positions and an ammunitions truck belonging to the Syrian regime,” an Israeli military statement read, noting the army had also ordered Israelis to keep away from open areas along the border near Quneitra, where internal fighting was heavy.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned Saturday night that the regime would continue to “suffer the consequences” of any attack on Israel emanating from its territory.

Israel, he said, had “no intention of accepting challenges to our sovereignty and threats to our security, even if they are caused by ‘spillover’” from Syrian infighting.

“We will respond strongly, resolutely and with levelheadedness to any such case,” he said. “As far as we are concerned the Assad regime is responsible for what occurs in its territory and will continue to suffer the consequences if such events recur.”

Israel has tried to stay out of the six-year civil war in Syria and refrained from taking sides, but has responded to spillover fire on numerous occasions.

 

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