Israel Strikes Syrian Army Targets in Retaliation for Attack on Golan Heights

Israeli helicopters targeted three outposts in southwest Syria with anti-tank guided missiles, causing two injures and some fires, state media report ■ Attack comes after explosion along the Syrian-Israeli border

Yaniv Kubovich
Jack Khoury
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The strike over the Golan Heights sky, July 24, 2020.
The strike over the Golan Heights sky, July 24, 2020.Credit: Dana Safadi
Yaniv Kubovich
Jack Khoury

The Israeli army attacked Syrian army targets in the south in response to an earlier attack on the Golan Heights which it attributed to Syrian forces.

Syrian state news agency reported on Friday, quoting a military source, that Israeli helicopters targeted three outposts in the Quneitra area of southwest Syria with anti-tank guided missiles, causing two injures and some fires. 

"A number of targets were struck, including SAF observation posts and intelligence collection systems located in SAF bases," the military said in a statement.

The strike came a few hours after the Israeli military said blasts were heard from the Syrian-held area of the Golan Heights. No casualties were reported but a building and an Israeli vehicle were damaged, it said.

The army believes that the blast on Friday was caused by an unsuccessful attempt by Syrian forces to intercept an Israeli drone with an anti-aircraft weapon. However, the army is not ruling out the possibility of intentional rocket fire. Both the army and the political echelon view the event as a serious infringement that Syria is responsible for.

A Syrian source told Lebanese network Al Mayadeen that Syrian air defenses responded to a target, probably an Israeli drone, in the nearby Quneitra area.

Earlier on Friday Haaretz reported that the Israeli military assessments increasingly expected that Hezbollah is preparing to retaliate for the killing of one of its operatives in Syria following a strike near Damascus that the group attributed to Israel.

Earlier this week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Israel attacked by pro-Iranian militia targets on Monday, and a Syrian military source told Reuters that at least seven soldiers were wounded and that the strike caused heavy damage.

Hezbollah-aligned media later reported that the strike killed a fighter from the Lebanese Shi'ite militia who hailed from 'Itit in southern Lebanon.

The military had been preparing for the possibility of a retaliation by Hezbollah, and following a situation assessment by the chief of staff and the head of the military's Central Command has decided to take a number of steps to up preparedness. On Friday night, roads along the Lebanese border have been shut to all non-military vehicles since 8 P.M. Troops have also been sent to the north to bolster the military presence in communities next to the border.

Intelligence and Air Force units were also instructed to increase preparedness. In a number of towns in the north, roads that pass through exposed areas will be closed and alternate routes will be made available. The military has also decided to reduce the number of troops and equipment at the front lines and erect more effective defenses in case of a security event. 

After the strike Monday, Syria's official news agency reported that its air defenses in Damascus were activated against "enemy targets" in the skies over the capitol.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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