Syrian commander said among injured in IDF strikes on army posts

Israeli military confirms targeting positions after stray rockets hit Golan Heights, says it will not tolerate ‘violation of its sovereignty’

IDF soldiers stand near a large brush fire outside Kfar Sold in the Golan Heights sparked by four missiles fired from the Syrian side of the Israeli-Syrian border on August 20, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
IDF soldiers stand near a large brush fire outside Kfar Sold in the Golan Heights sparked by four missiles fired from the Syrian side of the Israeli-Syrian border on August 20, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

A deputy brigade commander of the Syrian army’s 90th battalion was said to be among the injured in IDF strikes on two Syrian military targets across Israel’s border on the Golan Heights Sunday night.

According to reports in the Arab press, the commander sustained moderate wounds.

The raids were in response to errant rocket fire launched from Syria that landed in Israel in the past two days.

The IDF confirmed the air strikes late Sunday night, with IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner saying: “Israel will not tolerate violation of its sovereignty; the Syrian military is responsible and accountable for any aggression emanating from Syria. The IDF remains committed in defending the civilians and safeguarding the borders of Israel from all threats.”

Two mortar shells fell in open territory in the northern Golan Heights since Saturday night, as a result of stray fire from the ongoing civil war in the neighboring country. Neither incident caused injuries or damage. Activists have reported intense fighting between Syrian troops and insurgents in the Quneitra area in recent days.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon confirmed that the army had hit Syrian targets Sunday night. He called the rockets that fell inside Israel “a violation of sovereignty [that] crosses a red line.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday night that the IDF shelling targeted army positions in a town in southwest Quneitra province, on the Golan.

At least three or four Israeli strikes hit a regime military position inside Saryeh, near the regime’s administrative capital of Baath City, said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

They were fired from inside the Golan, he said, but did not have details on any casualties.

According to an unconfirmed report by the Israel Hayom website, at least two Syrian soldiers were killed in the IDF shelling.

Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, the Golan has been tense, with a growing number of mostly stray rockets and mortar rounds hitting the Israeli side, prompting the occasional armed response.

Israel has in recent weeks watched warily as Russia sent arms to Syria to bolster the Assad regime, some of which Jerusalem fears may reach Hezbollah and be used in deliberate attacks against Israel from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

On Saturday, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported the Syrian army has given dozens of Soviet-era tanks to the Islamist Hezbollah organization to help battle its enemies.

The paper said that Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Russia have launched a “joint operations room” to coordinate their campaign to defeat the extremist Islamic State group, which has captured swathes of Syrian territory during the country’s four-year civil war, as well as the opposition groups, some linked to al-Qaeda, seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

At a recent meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Valdimir Putin, the Israeli leader said Iran and Syria have been arming Hezbollah with advanced weapons, thousands of which are directed at Israeli cities.

“At the same time, Iran, under the auspices of the Syrian army, is attempting to build a second terrorist front against us from the Golan Heights,” he said.

Netanyahu said that he told Putin in “no uncertain terms” that Israel will not tolerate Tehran’s efforts to arm Israel’s enemies in the region, and that Jerusalem has taken and will continue to take action against any such attempts.

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