IDF Jeep in Golan Hit by Bullets, as Fighting Rages on Syrian Side of Border

Several dozen fighters, from both sides, have reportedly been killed in past week as rebels and regime struggle for control over the Syrian Golan.

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A round of gunfire coming from the Syrian side of the border on Saturday hit an IDF jeep during a routine patrol in the Golan Heights.

No one was wounded in the incident. The jeep was lightly damaged.

It was unclear whether the rounds were fired with the intention of hitting the IDF vehicle, or if it was a case of stray rounds as a result of fighting between Syrian rebels and regime troops.

Fighting between the two sides has been taking place on the other side of the border over the past week, with rebels attempting to overrun the Quneitra region, located along the cease-fire line separating Syria and Israel. The rebels have largely been beaten back since they seized control of at least one Druze village and parts of several others in Quneitra province near the 1974 disengagement line.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had documented the deaths of 35 opposition fighters and that contact had been lost with more than 20 others believed to have died in the fighting on Wednesday and Thursday.

At least six pro-Assad fighters were also killed and dozens of others were wounded, according to the activist group.

The frontier has largely been calm in the nearly four decades since Israel and Syria fought a war over the Golan Heights that ended with a UN-monitored cease-fire. But Israeli military officials have expressed concern that a rebel takeover could upset the calm maintained by Assad and his predecessor and father the late Hafez Assad.

Israel has retaliated for sporadic Syrian fire that spilled into Israeli communities on the Golan Heights on several occasions over the past few months.

Earlier this month, three mortar shells fired from Syria fell in Israel's southern
Golan Heights, landing in an uninhabited area and causing no damage.

Last month, members of the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade held 21 Filipino peacekeepers hostage for four days, raising concerns about the future of UN operations in the area.

Last November, the IDF did return fire with a Tamuz anti-tank missile after an errant mortar shell fired from Syria landed near an Israeli town in the Golan Heights.  

An IDF post overlocking the Syrian border.Credit: Gil Eliyahu

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