Israel strike back after Syrian rocket attack

Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria is backed by Hezbollah. Picture: Getty
Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria is backed by Hezbollah. Picture: Getty
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AT LEAST two rockets launched from Syria struck the Israeli-­controlled Golan Heights yesterday, causing Israel to respond with artillery fire.

The attack comes after last week’s air strike in Syria attributed to Israel killed six members of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and an Iranian general.

Israel has since strengthened its air defences and increased surveillance along its northern frontier.

Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said the fire “appeared to be intentional”. A message on Lerner’s Twitter account said Israel “responded with artillery towards the positions that launched the attack”.

The military said sirens sounded in communities in the Golan Heights yesterday. It said it had evacuated and closed a popular ski resort following the strike. No injuries were reported.

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Israel had no immediate comment on who was responsible for the attack, and there were no reports of damage or injuries. The Israel Defence Forces said the attack did not appear to be stray fire, unlike a number of times when projectiles fired by the warring parties in Syria’s civil war have landed on the ­Israeli side of the border.

Hamad Awidat, a correspondent for Iran’s state-owned Press TV who was working in the area at the time of the exchange of fire, said the Israeli military bombed Syrian army installations in the northern Golan Heights.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government, nor from Hezbollah, which has been operating ­reconnaissance missions in the area and appears to be developing a growing presence in the Golan. Bashar al-Assad’s government is being supported by Hezbollah in its nearly four-year-old war against anti-government rebels and Islamist groups.

The Israeli government did not admit responsibility for the attack, but members of a UN peacekeeping force stationed in the Golan saw Israeli drones operating in the area at the time. Hezbollah and Iran’s government blamed Israel and threatened to retaliate.

Israel has since put its military and civil defence on alert in the north and moved a unit of its Iron Dome rocket interception system to the area.

Fighting in neighbouring Syria’s civil war has spilled over to Israel in the past. Mortar shells have exploded sporadically inside Israeli territory since the conflict began, sometimes causing minor damage.

Israel believes most fire is errant shots but has at times accused Syria of aiming at Israeli targets. Israeli troops have returned fire on several occasions.