19 November 2012
Israeli soldiers fired artillery into Syria in response to gunfire aimed at its troops in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, but caused no casualties, a military spokeswoman said yesterday, in the latest spillover of violence across the ceasefire line.
“Shots were fired at Israeli army soldiers...in the central Golan Heights,” an army spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse, adding that the Syrian fire hit “a vehicle.” “Soldiers responded with artillery fire towards the source of the shooting... a direct hit was identified,” she said.
‘Syrian soldiers killed’
There were no reported injuries on the Israeli side, the third case this month of violence seen as a spillover of civil unrest in Syria that has also alarmed other neighbors such as Lebanon and Turkey.
However, “There was small arms fire (at Israeli forces), there was a response and from what I hear over Arab media it appears Syrian soldiers were killed,” Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai, Israel’s chief military spokesman, told Army Radio, Reuters reported.
The Israeli military also lodged a complaint with the United Nations on the incident, according to Reuters. The U.N. has a peace-keeper force in the area monitoring a ceasefire in place since the 1970s and Israel has complained repeatedly to the United Nations after several such incidents. Israel captured the Golan area in a 1967 war and later annexed it in a move never recognized internationally.
On the ground, in Damascus government artillery bombarded the southern district of Al-Hajar al-Aswad, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The Britain-based watchdog, which relies on a network of activists and medics in civilian and military hospitals to compile its tolls, said one civilian was killed and several wounded.
Several mortar rounds also hit the mainly Alawite regime heartland of Mazzeh in west Damascus, which state television blamed on “terrorist groups.” Aleppo and its environs in the north too saw heavy combat, the Observatory said, reporting fierce clashes at regime Base 46 in the province, which has been besieged for weeks.
Artillery fire also hit the provinces of Daraa in the south and Deir Ezzor in the east, where rebels said Nov. 16 they seized Hamdan airport, a helicopter gunship base.