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Israel Fires 'Warning' Missile After Syrian Mortars Strike Golan

November 11, 2012

Israel's military says it fired "warning shots" into Syria after stray mortars from the Syrian conflict exploded in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

"A short while ago a mortar, stray mortar, hit an [Israel Defense Forces] post in the Golan Heights," said Israeli army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich. "We understand that this is a result of the internal conflict in Syria and was not directed at Israel. We have fired warning shots into Syrian areas and have also filed a complaint through the UN channels regarding this incident."

The November 11 Israeli missile fire into Syria marks the first time Israeli forces have attacked Syrian territory since the Yom Kippur War in 1973 when Syrian troops overran much of the southern Golan before being pushed back by an Israeli counterattack.

Israel and Syria signed a cease-fire agreement in 1974 that left almost all of the Golan Heights in Israeli hands.

Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in 1981 in a move that has not been recognized internationally.

The incident came amid continuing fighting between Syrian government forces and fighters from the Free Syria Army in the southwestern corner of Syria, near the Golan Heights. It was in that area, at the southwestern Syrian city of Daraa, that the rebels' uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began 20 months ago.

Intensifying Civil War

Several mortar shells have fallen into the Israeli-occupied part of the Golan Heights during the past week without causing any damage or injuries.

Israel considers those incidents to be accidental. But it says it still holds Syria responsible.

On November 11, with Syria's civil war intensifying near Daraa, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet that Israeli forces are "closely monitoring what is happening" and are "ready for any development" on the Syrian border.

The developments come amid growing concern about the potential for Syria's conflict to spread to other countries in the region.

Syrian government forces on November 11 also have been battling rebels near the borders with other countries.

At the southeastern Syrian town of Al Bukamal near the border with Iraq, government helicopter gunships bombed rebel fighters.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government helicopters also attacked the town of Ras al-Ain Sunday on Syria's northeastern border with Turkey.

That attack comes after rebels from the Free Syrian Army captured a border crossing in the area, which is home to a large part of Syria's Kurdish minority.

Relations between Damascus and Turkey also have been strained over fighting in the northwest corner of Turkey, which has resulted in several Turkish border villages being struck by artillery fired by Syrian government troops.

Turkey also has fired into Syrian territory in response to those incidents.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

Source: missile-after-syria-mortars-strike-golan/24767756.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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