Israeli aircraft strike Syrian army positions

2015-01-28 13:24
An Israeli army 155mm mobile artillery battery is stationed near the border with Syria in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights. (Menahem Kahana, AFP)

An Israeli army 155mm mobile artillery battery is stationed near the border with Syria in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights. (Menahem Kahana, AFP)

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Jerusalem - Israeli aircraft struck two Syrian army positions early on Wednesday, the army said, in retaliation for rockets launched at the Israel-occupied Golan Heights a day earlier.

The strike came amid rising frontier tension 10 days after an Israeli air strike in Syria killed an Iranian general and several Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas.

"The Israel Defence Forces [IDF] hold the Syrian Government accountable for all attacks emanating from its land, and will operate by any means necessary to defend Israeli civilians," said Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner.

On Tuesday, at least two rockets from Syria hit the Golan Heights and Israel responded with artillery fire, the army said. That incident forced Israel to evacuate its Mount Hermon ski resort on the Golan Heights, although a resort official said it had reopened for business on Wednesday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket fire and no casualties were reported.

In the Israeli air strike on a Hezbollah convoy near the Golan Heights on 18 January, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general, Mohammed Allahdadi, was killed along with a Hezbollah commander and the son of the group's late military leader, Imad Moughniyeh.

Both Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006, and the Revolutionary Guards vowed to avenge the deaths.

Heightened alert

Since that air strike, troops and civilians in northern Israel and the Golan Heights have been on heightened alert and Israel has deployed an Iron Dome rocket interceptor unit near the Syrian border.

Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. Mortar shells and rockets have struck the Heights numerous times during Syria's nearly four-year-old civil war.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters US officials "do not want to see an escalation of the situation". Psaki said the United States calls "upon all parties to avoid any action that would jeopardize the long-held ceasefire between Israel and Syria”.

"We support Israel's legitimate right to self defence and have been clear about our concerns over the regional instability caused by the crisis in Syria," Psaki added.

Iran has told the United States last week's air strike crossed "red lines" and it will respond, IRNA news agency on Tuesday quoted a senior official as saying.

Read more on:    syria  |  israel

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