The airstrike hit Syrian Arab Army positions in the country’s southwestern region of Quneitra near the border with the Israeli-controlled contested territory, but did not inflict any casualties, an unnamed commander in a pro-government popular defense group told reporters.
The strike was a retaliation against an errant shell that landed east of the fence between Israeli-controlled territory and mainland Syria. According to a statement by the Israeli Defense Forces, the shell was launched during fighting between Syrian government forces and militant groups in the area.
Syrian government forces have pushed the militants to a relatively small enclave adjacent to Israeli and Jordanian territory, with the city of Daraa on the Jordanian border being their primary target. The city of Quneitra, located in the western part of the enclave, has not been the focus of the offensive recently.
However, in a statement made Friday, the Israeli military said that, while Israel is not involved in the war in Syria, it would “continue to implement the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement that includes maintaining the buffer zone.”
The agreement is a UN-monitored armistice that forbids a military buildup on both sides of the demarcation line. However, Tel Aviv claims the right to shoot at any military target on Syrian territory which it considers to be violating the agreement. Back in April 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially admitted for the first time that the regime’s military had conducted strikes in Syrian territory.
However, Israel has reportedly beefed up its tank and artillery forces on the plateau, according to Reuters, in fear of advancing Syrian government forces, which Israel claims are intertwined with Iranian troops. Israel has asked Russia, which is allied with the Syrian government but also has relations with Israel, to make sure no Iranian forces close in on Israel’s border.
Damascus claims Israel and its allies are supporting the terrorist groups fighting in Syria by conducting strikes on Syrian soil and by setting up hospitals for militants evacuated from the theater of war, reports PressTV. In addition, the Syrian army has repeatedly seized large amounts of Israeli-made weapons and military equipment from the terrorists.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the Six-Day War in 1967 and later occupied it. Israel’s annexation of the territory has never been recognized by the international community and the UN Security Council. Israel and Syria still remain officially at war as a result of the conflict and the lack of formal diplomatic relations between the two states.