Syrian soldier said killed by Israeli retaliatory fire on Golan
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Syrian soldier said killed by Israeli retaliatory fire on Golan

Syrian rights group, Hezbollah say IDF targeted artillery positions in Quneitra; several Syrian troops said wounded; IDF declines comment

Illustrative: Smoke rises following an explosion in Syria's Quneitra province as Syrian rebels clash with Assad regime forces, seen from the Golan Heights in 2014. (AP/Ariel Schalit, File)
Illustrative: Smoke rises following an explosion in Syria's Quneitra province as Syrian rebels clash with Assad regime forces, seen from the Golan Heights in 2014. (AP/Ariel Schalit, File)

A group monitoring the death toll in the Syrian civil war said Saturday that at least one Syrian Army soldier was killed by rounds fired from Israeli aircraft operating on the Golan Heights.

According to the report from the London-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, Israeli aircraft attacked artillery positions manned by President Bashar Assad’s army in response to an incident earlier on Saturday in which two mortar shells were fired across the border into Israel.

At least one soldier was killed in the attack and several others wounded, according to the observatory. The attacks took place in Quneitra, a city that was destroyed and abandoned in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and serves as an outpost of the Syrian military.

According to the Walla news website, the soldier was identified as Muhammad Hassan a-Sid by Syrians using social media, and his picture was posted on social media websites.

A statement accusing Israel of killing the soldier was also published by Hezbollah. The statement said an Israeli drone attacked the target in Khan Arnabe, a Syrian village flanking Quneitra from the east in the center of the Syrian Golan Heights.

The IDF did not comment on the Syrian and Lebanese reports, but has maintained a regular policy of retaliating against the Syrian army for fire on Israeli territory.

On Thursday, Israeli security sources told The Times of Israel that errant projectiles from Syria that have landed on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights over the past two weeks have been fired by Syrian opposition groups as well as by Syrian army forces.

The IDF said this week that it “will not hesitate to act against any opposition forces in Syria,” a statement seen as an escalation by Israel meant to deter possible attempts by opposition forces to force Israel into conflict with the Assad regime via firing rockets at Israeli towns on the Golan.

Earlier Friday afternoon, two projectiles fired from Syria were intercepted by Iron Dome missile defense batteries stationed on the plateau, the IDF said.

The apparently errant projectiles were destroyed mid-flight with no harm to civilians or property. Military officials said the projectiles were not deliberately fired at Israel.

The first missile was reportedly intercepted at around 4 p.m. local time. The second one was intercepted approximately 90 minutes later.

“This is the first time that fire from Syria has been intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system,” a military spokesman said.

Officials told Channel 2 News that the projectiles would likely not have hit Israeli territory. Iron Dome was nevertheless activated in order to send a message to both Israelis and Syrians that the IDF would defend its territory from cross-border fire.

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