ISIS Fighters Killed by Israeli Airstrikes After Opening Fire on IDF Soldiers in Golan Heights

Event is first direct clash between ISIS and Israeli forces. No Israeli soldiers wounded in incident.

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Israeli soldiers of the Golani brigade take position during training in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, on the border with Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016
Israeli soldiers of the Golani brigade take position during training in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, on the border with Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016Credit: AP Ariel Schalit

A number of ISIS fighters were killed after exchanging fire in the first direct clashes between Israel and the Islamic State on Sunday in the southern Golan Heights. In the incident, the Shuhada al-Yarmouk organization, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS, exchanged fire with Israeli forces. No soldiers were wounded.

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Several mortar shells exploded following a brief exchange with the IDF's Golani Brigade before Israeli air forces spotted a car armed with a heavy machine gun. The aerial vehicle bombed the car and it appeared as if its four occupants were killed.

A senior military officer said the car carrying the machine gun was several hundred meters from the border.

"We don't know all the outcomes of the event. There is great probability there are four dead and the heavy machine gun was destroyed," a senior officer said. "The terrorists are from Shuhada al-Yarmouk, with all the significance that organization's name carries. The Israeli forces didn't lie in ambush by chance."

The officer added that at this stage there are no special instructions for area residents.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned the incident at the weekly cabinet meeting. "I wish to praise IDF soldiers for thwarting an attack on our northern border," he said, without going into further detail.

IDF forces in the Golan Heights, January 28, 2015.Credit: AP

A senior Syrian opposition source told Haaretz on Sunday that the incident in the Golan Heights has followed the achievement of an agreement recently between the factions operating on the Syrian Golan front and the Assad regime.

The source said that via this operation the factions were seeking to express their dissatisfaction with the agreement under which they must leave the area and hand over their weapons to regime forces.

"There are more than a few armed men who see the agreement as a total surrender because they have no other way out other than via the Israeli or Jordanian border, both of which are blocked," the source said.

The gunfire at the IDF was an attempt to get Israel actively involved in Syrian territory, shuffle the deck, and perhaps change the situation, the source said.

Shuhada al-Yarmouk was established in 2012, according to local residents in Syria, and later swore allegiance to ISIS. In 2016, the group was integrated into another organization that also identified with ISIS, and have since been called Jish Khaled Ibn al-Walid.

They have in essence a established a jihadist organization. The IDF web site says the group is the active arm of ISIS, operating in the border triangle. Shuhada al-Yarmouk was the group responsible for seizing 21 UNDOF troops from the Philippines as hostages in 2013.

Read more on Israel and ISIS: Why the Islamic State isn't in any rush to attack Israel | Beyond the Israel-Syria border fence, ISIS and Al-Qaida plot | ISIS is sure to attack Israel - it's only a matter of time

Earlier this month, a mortar round exploded in the northern Golan Heights, close to the Syrian border. There were no injuries or damage.

The mortar round was apparently fired from the area of Quneitra, where bitter fighting has been raging since early morning between opposing sides in the Syrian civil war. It was removed from the scene by military sappers.

In response to the firing, the Israel Defense Forces attacked an artillery battery belonging to the Syrian army, which is believed to have been responsible for the mortar fire.

In September, Israel's Iron Dome system shot down two long-range mortar rounds on the Golan Heights. It was the first time that the system had intercepted fire from Syria.

This is a developing story.

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