Thursday 18 December 2014

Fears of broader conflict as Israel strikes in Syria

Phoebe Greenwood Jerusalem and Richard Spencer

Published 13/11/2012 | 05:00

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) responded to a shell landing in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights for the second consecutive day.

Israeli troops have confirmed "direct hits" on Syrian targets as fears over Syria's civil war spiralling into a regional conflict intensified.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) responded to a shell landing in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights for the second consecutive day.

"A mortar shell hit an open area in the vicinity of an IDF post in the Golan Heights, as part of the internal conflict in Syria, causing no damage or injuries," a statement said.

"In response, IDF soldiers fired tank shells towards the source of the fire, confirming direct hits."

Military sources suggested the target struck was a mobile multiple-rocket launcher used commonly by both sides in the war in Libya. Such weapons have been observed only once on the rebel side in Syria, in the failed attack earlier this month on the airbase at Taftanaz near Aleppo.

The IDF statement did not make clear whether it belonged to regime or rebel forces and an IDF spokesman said it was irrelevant as Israel would hit back if fired upon no matter what the source.

"The Israeli defence establishment is concerned with doing the job of protecting our citizens in the north, as we try to protect our citizens in the south," the spokesman said.

Ehud Barak, the defence minister, met with the heads of the IDF and Israeli intelligence to discuss the crisis. Israel has portrayed itself as neutral due to fears of being dragged in if Syria and Iran encourage Hizbollah to begin shelling Israel.

Rebels, on the other hand, think Israel is backing Bashar al-Assad, who despite years of anti-Israel rhetoric at least preserved the peace on the border with the Golan Heights. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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