Israel strikes Syrian Army in Golan Heights, despite non-intervention policy

The Israel Defense Forces struck two Syrian artillery cannons late Sunday after errant fire from the war-torn country struck near the border fence, the army announced Monday.

The Syrian-Israeli border fence was damaged in the initial incident, but no Israeli civilians or soldiers were injured by the shells that struck overnight Saturday-Sunday, the IDF said.

Generally, the IDF rapidly responds to errant fire, shelling Syrian positions hours after the incident. An army spokesperson would only cite “operational considerations” as the reason behind the nearly full-day delay.

Using artillery fire, Israel shelled the two Syrian army cannons, which were a part of a larger artillery battery, IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner said.

Israel has maintained an official policy of non-intervention in the Syrian civil war, which has rocked the country for over five years and left hundreds of thousands dead.

However, the IDF has responded when fighting by the various rebel groups and government forces spills over the border.

“The IDF does not get involved in the fighting in Syria, but we are determined to defend [Israel] and respond to every irregularity,” the army said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear which group on the Syrian side was responsible for the errant fire, but the IDF holds Syrian President Bashar Assad and his military responsible for any disturbance on the border.

Though fighting still rages between the three main groups on Israel’s border — the Yarmouk Martyr’s Brigade, the al-Nusra Front and the government regime — there have been relatively few cases of mortars landing inside Israel in recent months.

In September, a rocket landed in an open field in the Golan Heights, sparking a brush fire that was quickly extinguished. No Israelis were injured, but in response, the IDF also shelled two Syrian army positions.

In 2014, however, an IDF officer and an Israeli civilian were injured by stray fire from the Syrian civil war.

By Judah Ari Gross

© 2016 The Times of Israel. All rights reserved.

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