Israeli soldiers stand atop tanks in the Golan Heights near Israel's border with Syria.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK -- The United States is closely monitoring an escalating military confrontation between Israel and military forces in Syria, and calls on all parties to avoid further jeopardizing a long-held ceasefire in the Golan Heights, a State Department official told The Jerusalem Post on Friday evening.
Israel conducted a second round of strikes in Syrian-controlled territory on Friday, reportedly hitting a vehicle and killing six. The Israeli government says its targets are militants responsible for firing rockets into Israeli-controlled territory the day before.
The four rockets fired from Syria marked the first such exchange since 1973.
Lebanese media released video of Syrian anti-aircraft batteries firing at Israel Air Force units in response. The images could not be independently verified by the Post
"We strongly condemn the rocket attacks against Israel and the Golan Heights from Syrian territory," said Dina Badawy, a spokesperson for the State Department. "We fully support Israel’s right to self-defense, and to ensure the safety of its people."
After the exchange of fire, the US embassy in Israel issued an emergency alert to American nationals in Israel warning against travel to the Golan and to Israel's northern territories.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the militants are operating under the orders of the Iranian government. But Badawy said the US had not yet determined the perpetrators of the attack.
"We are closely monitoring the situation, and have been in close contact with the Israeli government since the attack occurred," she said. "We are currently working to confirm details of the attack and who may have been responsible."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also urged both sides to exercise restraint.