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Middle East

Fire from Syria lands in Golan, Israel hits back

Israeli men, sitting on a ridge in the Israeli annexed Golan Heights, watch the fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebel fighters in the Syrian village of Quneitra on September 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JALAA MAREY

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: A projectile from fighting in the Syrian civil war struck the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights Thursday and Israeli forces responded by attacking a Syrian army position, the military said.

In a statement, the military said it appeared the shooting from Syria was “errant fire” from battles between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels trying to topple him.

Such fighting, now in its fourth year, has often spilled over into Israeli-held parts of the Golan Heights, territory Israel occupied in the 1967 war.

The military said that in response to the latest fire from the Syrian side, its soldiers “targeted a Syrian army position, and hits were confirmed.”

It did not say what type of attack Israel carried out. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was an airstrike on a Syrian army base on the Golan. There were no immediate reports of casualties from either side.

Islamist fighters battling the Syrian army last week overran a U.N.-controlled crossing point on the “disengagement line” that has separated Israelis from Syrians on the Golan Heights since the 1973 war.

The fighters then turned against U.N. blue helmets from a peacekeeping force that has patrolled the zone since 1974.

After 45 Fijians were captured Thursday, 72 Filipinos were besieged by militants at two other locations for two days before the peacekeepers escaped.

The militants, believed to be part of the Nusra Front, are still holding the 45 Fijian members of the United Nations’ UNDOF Golan Heights force.

Aviv Oreg, former head of the Al-Qaeda desk on the Israeli National Security Council, said the Nusra Front sees Israel as a “legitimate target.” He said that while the group is preoccupied with the fighting inside Syria, it is just a matter of time before it tries to strike Israel, since its fighters now “have direct access.”

An Israeli Patriot missile Sunday shot down what the military described as a Syrian drone over the strategic plateau.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 05, 2014, on page 12.

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Summary

A projectile from fighting in the Syrian civil war struck the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights Thursday and Israeli forces responded by attacking a Syrian army position, the military said.

In a statement, the military said it appeared the shooting from Syria was "errant fire" from battles between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels trying to topple him.

Islamist fighters battling the Syrian army last week overran a U.N.-controlled crossing point on the "disengagement line" that has separated Israelis from Syrians on the Golan Heights since the 1973 war.


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