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Army source to 'Post': Syrian cross-border shooting 'was not stray fire'
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
03/12/2013
Monday's gun attack on IDF patrol resulted from one Syrian soldier's decision to shoot at us, source says.
 
The cross-border gun attack from Syria on an IDF patrol on Monday was a deliberate attack launched by a lone Syrian soldier, and not stray fire, an army source told The Jerusalem Post on 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 hit in the return fire.

The incident is not being viewed as extraordinary by the IDF’s Northern Command, which has dealt with similar instances since battles between the Assad regime and rebels spread have right up to the border with Israel. 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 any sudden deterioration sparked by unforeseeable triggers.

Meanwhile, in southern Syria, rebels have been clashing with regime forces on a daily basis, as they defend a strip of villages under their control from the army’s 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.
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