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Golan Heights - Army: Syrian Cross-Border Shooting 'Was Not Stray Fire'

Published on: December 3, 2013 09:35 PM
By: Jerusalem Post
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File: Smoke rising due to a fire caused by mortar fire near the village of Afania on the Syrian side of the border with Israel in the Golan Heights, on 08 October 2013. EPA/ATEF SAFADIFile: Smoke rising due to a fire caused by mortar fire near the village of Afania on the Syrian side of the border with Israel in the Golan Heights, on 08 October 2013. EPA/ATEF SAFADI

Golan Heights - The cross-border gun attack from Syria on an IDF patrol on the Golan Heights on Monday was a deliberate attack launched by a lone Syrian soldier, and not stay fire, an army source told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.

After identifying the source of the fire and seeing that they were being targeted on purpose, an IDF infantry unit returned fire, striking the attacker’s position. It remains unclear if the Syrian shooter was killed or injured in the return fire.

The incident is not being viewed as extraordinary by the IDF’s Northern Command, which has dealt with similar pinpoint instances of gunfire directed at soldiers since battles between the Assad regime and rebels spread right up to the border with Israel.

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However, concern remains among military brass that such localized incidents carry the potential of escalation, and might inadvertently turn into a wider confrontation. The scenario remains unlikely, but decidedly possible in the chaotic conditions of Syria, and the IDF has been drilling robust responses to a sudden deterioration sparked by unforeseeable triggers.

Meanwhile, in southern Syria near the border with Israel, rebels and the Syrian army have been clashing on a daily basis, with rebel forces defending a strip of villages under their control from a regime push to retake them. Some of the border regions are under the control of the Syrian army.

IDF officials report witnessing a basic pattern in which the Syrian army gathers its forces near a village under rebel control, prompting civilians to flee. A battle then ensues, and civilians return to their homes when it ends.

“There have been no strategic changes here,” the army source said, adding “This pattern has been repeating itself.”

This week, intense fighting between Assad’s army and rebels erupted in the Kuneitra area. On Sunday, a Syrian mortar shell crossed into Israel and exploded near
the Druse village of Majdal Shams. There were no injuries in the incident, and the IDF did not return fire.

In October, two soldiers were lightly injured in the area by shrapnel from a Syrian mortar. The Syrian artillery post that fired the projectile was destroyed by the IDF soon after.

During the same month, the IDF tested a barrier being built on the border with Syria and found it to be missile proof.

Earlier this year, the army fired a Tamuz guided surface-to-surface missile at a Syrian army post following two incidents of gunfire directed at Israeli soldiers.


Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post



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