Two Killed in Israeli Airstrikes on Syrian Army in Golan Heights, Local Reports Say

Israeli aircraft attacked Syrian tanks, IDF says, after errant fire from Syria hits Israel ■ Syrian army: Israel provided air cover to Islamist attack ■ Netanyahu vows: We'll with force respond to any fire to our territory

Israeli soldiers patrol near the border with Syria after projectiles fired from the war-torn country hit the Israeli occupied Golan Heights on June 24, 2017.
Israeli soldiers patrol near the border with Syria after projectiles fired from the war-torn country hit the Israeli occupied Golan Heights on June 24, 2017. JALAA MAREY/AFP

Israel attacked Syrian army positions in the northern Golan Heights on Saturday, after errant fire from the Syrian side spilled over into Israeli territory. Two people were reportedly killed in Quneitra in the attack, Syrian media reported.

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IDF

The Syrian army claimed that the Israeli airstrikes coincided with an attack by Islamist militants on the same positions. The Syrian army said it seemed the two attacks were coordinated and that the attack by Israeli military helicopters supported the Nusra Front's assault on a Quneitra suburb.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the airstrikes "once again made our policy clear: We are not willing to accept any spillover or leakage of fire from any front. We will respond with force to any fire on our territory."

According to a statement by the Syrian army carried by Syria's state news agency, the Israeli attack hit a garage and a residential building and led to the death of a number of people. According to the statement, the incident proved the connection between Israel and local terror groups.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, Israeli aircraft struck the Syrian positions that were the source of the errant fire, including two tanks. 

"The IDF will not allow any attempt to harm Israel's sovereignty and the security of its people, and sees the Syrian regime as responsible for what transpires in its territory," the IDF said in a statement, noting that a complaint has been passed on to UNDOF, the international force in charge of keeping the peace along the border.

Rebel fighters fire mortar shells towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Quneitra province, bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Syria June 24, 2017
ALAA AL-FAQIR/REUTERS

The Nusra Front, which split from Al-Qaida and is now part of the Tahrir al-Sham Islamist alliance, is among the rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad's government for control of Quneitra and the area has been scene to ongoing violence in recent years.

Israel has carried out airstrikes or fired mortar rounds during the six-year war in Syria, often in response to the occasional spillover, including stray shells from fighting among Syrian factions.

>> Israel’s slow creep into the Syrian civil war | Analysis <<

Smoke rises from a field on the Israeli side of the border with Syria after projectiles fired from the war-torn country hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on June 24, 2017.
JALAA MAREY/AFP

Earlier in the day, gun fire from the war raging in Syria spilled over into Israel with a number of projectiles hitting the Israeli Golan Heights. No Israelis were hurt or wounded in the incident and no damage was caused.

According to the Israeli army, due to the ongoing internal fighting in Syria near Quneitra, the Israel Defense Forces has requested farmers and civilians not to Valley of Tears in the Golan or the Quneitra salient.

In wake of increased fighting between rebels and regime forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad not far from the border with Israel, near the Quneitra border crossing, there is some spillover into Israel, the Golan Regional Council said.

As a result, they said, farmers working the orchards and fields across from Quneitra have been vacated, and travelers are barred from the area. At this time, there are no special emergency instructions and local are instructed to continue with their regular routine.

At the end of April, three Syrian mortar shells exploded in the Israeli Golan Heights, causing no damage. In response, the Israeli army attacked the positions from which the mortar shells were fired in the Syrian Golan Heights, the army said in a statement.

Reuters contributed background to this report