Israeli Army Says Cell Behind Rocket Fire From Syria Killed in Air Strike

At least four killed in an attack 10 kilometers deep in Syria targeting Islamic Jihad militants, the IDF said.

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The Syrian area of Quneitra is seen in the background as an out-of-commission Israeli tank parks on a hill near the Israel-Syria border, August 21, 2015.
The Syrian area of Quneitra is seen in the background as an out-of-commission Israeli tank parks on a hill near the Israel-Syria border, August 21, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Israel's air force carried out an attack in Syria on Friday morning killing at least four people. The Israel Defense Forces said the men were part of an Islamic Jihad cell responsible for rocket fire at northern Israel on Thursday.

The Israeli strike came a day after four rockets were fired at the Galilee and the Golan Heights from Syrian territory. The rockets set off fires, but caused no casualties. Israeli artillery and warplanes responded on Thursday evening, killing one person and wounding seven others. Israel accused Islamic Jihad and Iran of instigating the attacj, an allegation which was denied by the Palestinian militant group.

On Friday morning, an Israeli aircraft struck a car carrying five people across the border in Syria. The IDF said four men were killed in the attack, and that the condition of the fifth was unknown. It said that the men were members of the Islamic Jihad.

In Syria there were conflicting reports as to the identity of the men killed in the attack. Sources in the Syrian opposition said that five people were killed in the attack, including an Iranian commander, while Syrian state TV claimed the five were civilians.

A Lebanese report said three Palestinians and a Syrian national were in the car when it was attacked.

Israeli soldiers in the Golan Heights, August 21, 2015.Credit: Ancho Gosh / Jini

A senior Israeli officer told reporters on Friday that the IDF was tracking the cell following Thursday's rocket attack. The decision to target the car, he added, was reached after intelligence information confirmed that that the men inside fired the rockets on Thursday.

The strike on Friday was carried out at the center of the Syrian Golan Heights, ten kilometers from the border with Israel. According to Syrian state TV, the attack took place in a village near Quneitra. The senior officer stressed that the attack took place in an area controlled by the Syrian army.

"We have no wish to continue heating up [the border], only to protect the security of the State of Israel and its northern border," the officer said. He stressed that the militants received their directions from Iran.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel "has no intention to escalate the events, but our (Israel's) policy stands." He added: "The states rushing to embrace Iran should know that an Iranian commander gave the cell orders to fire at Israel."

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that "the assassination of the cell that fired [rockets] at Israel yesterday is additional proof that we will not tolerate any attempt to disrupt our lives and harm the security of Israeli citizens." He added that the "IDF and the defense establishment will hunt down and put their hands" on anyone who tries to do so.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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