IS DETERRENCE working? Smoke rises last year on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights during fighting near the border..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF hit three Syrian regime artillery positions Saturday following five projectiles that were launched towards Israel earlier in the morning.
Three of the five projectiles landed in open territory in Israel’s northern Golan Heights, causing no damage or injuries.
"Even if this is spillover, this is an exceptional event and the continuation of such events will only exacerbate Israel's response,” the army said in a statement, adding that “the IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the sovereignty Of the state of Israel and her citizens. The Syrian regime is responsible for all that is happening on its territory.”
Syria’s SANA state news agency reported that the Israeli shelling came after rebels launched mortar shells “upon the instructions of the Israeli entity” which gave the IDF a “pretext to carry out its aggression.”
The Syrian army added the shelling caused material damage and warned of “dangerous repercussions of such hostile acts” adding it holds Israel “fully responsible for the outcomes of that aggression, regardless of the flimsy pretexts.”
The border with Syria has been tense since the war erupted in 2011, and in June a number of projectiles landed in Israeli territory due to intense fighting on the Syrian side of Quneitra as the Assad regime fought against the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other rebels groups.
The Syrian army is currently engaged in a battle against al-Qaida militants in the village of Beit Jinn near the city of Quneitra near the Israeli border and on Thursday afternoon a projectile hit an open field on the Golan Heights in an apparent case of spillover fire from the fighting in Syria, leading to the IDF to strike regime positions in Quneitra.
A day earlier incoming rocket sirens rang out in several IDF bases in the Golan Heights, set off by internal fighting across the border. According to the IDF both projectiles landed inside Syria and posed no danger to Israel.
With various heavily armed radical groups battling President Bashar Assad, Syria is Israel’s most unpredictable and unstable neighbor and poses one of the largest risks for a sudden escalation.
Last month a Patriot missile was used to shoot down a Hezbollah-operated Iranian-made drone which was collecting intelligence for the Syrian regime offensive on Beit Jinn had crossed into the demilitarized zone on the Israeli-Syrian border.
According to Israel’s army the IDF is acting proportionally to prevent any deterioration and has responded to most of the spillover by retaliating against Assad regime positions.
Earlier this week Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is reported to have told Israel that Moscow has expressed willingness to extend a 6.2-9.3 miles (10-15 kilometer) off-limits zone where Iranian and Hezbollah forces will not be allowed to enter.
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are red-lines for the Jewish State.
Hours before Shoigu landed in Israel, Israeli fighter jets destroyed a Syrian anti-aircraft missile battery stationed some 50 kilometers east of Damascus which had fired on Israeli planes in Lebanese airspace earlier that morning.
Following the incident, Iran's military chief Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, who is in Damascus on an official visit warned Israel against violating Syrian airspace, saying "it is not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate Syria anytime it wants."
“We are here in Damascus to coordinate and cooperate in facing our common enemies of Zionists and terrorists,” Bagheri was quoted by SANA news agency, adding that “we discussed means of enhancing relations in the future and outlined the bilateral cooperation."
On Saturday Syria and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding to broaden and develop military cooperation and coordination between the two armies. According to a SANA the MoU focuses on developing military cooperation in various fields, including training, the exchange of combat and field expertise, intelligence information and military technology.