MIDDLE EAST

Israeli troops in Golan return fire from Syria

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 1:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 5:44pm
 

Israeli soldiers patrolling the disputed Golan Heights along the border with Syria fired back after coming under fire overnight, an Israeli Defence Forces statement said on Tuesday.

“Overnight, shots were fired at an IDF patrol on the border in the central Golan Heights, damaging a military vehicle,” said a statement on the army’s website. No one had been wounded, it added.

“In response, IDF forces returned precise fire at the source of the gunfire. They reported a direct hit,” the statement added.

“The IDF views the recent incidents in the north with concern and has lodged a complaint with UNDOF,” the UN Disengagement Force responsible for patrolling that area.

Early on Monday, the army reported that small-arms fire from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights overnight, causing no harm or damage. The army also filed a complaint with the UN force on that occasion.

The Golan Heights have been tense since the beginning of the conflict in Syria more than two years ago.

However, there have been only minor flare-ups in the region to date, with Syrian shells crashing in the occupied Golan and Israel firing in retaliation.

In recent weeks there were four incidents of fire coming from Syria and straying across the ceasefire line.

Last week projectiles from Syria hit Mount Hermon, causing the popular site on the Israeli-occupied Golan to close down to visitors.

Israel, which is technically at war with Syria, seized 1,200 square kilometres of the strategic Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War, which it later annexed, a move never recognised by the international community.

The Syrian military explained on Tuesday that it destroyed an Israeli vehicle after crossed the ceasefire line in the Golan Heights.

 A statement issued by the Syrian Armed Forces said its troops destroyed the vehicle “with those in it.” It did not elaborate, but said any attempt to infiltrate Syria’s sovereignty will face “immediate and firm retaliation". 

Agence France-Presse and Associated Press

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