Israel attacks Syrian targets in response to rocket fire on northern communities

GMT 08:45 2015 Friday ,21 August

Arab Today, arab today Israel attacks Syrian targets in response to rocket fire on northern communities

The Israel Defense Forces
Jerusalem - XINHUA

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fired artillery into Syria and carried airstrikes in response to a barrage of rockets that landed earlier in northern Israel, the IDF spokesperson unit confirmed in a statement.

The IDF statement confirmed that it fired artillery and air attacks on Syria, adding that it hit several positions of the Syrian army, and blamed the Islamic Jihad, with the backing of Iran and the Syrian government, for the earlier rocket attack on northern Israel.

"The IDF can now confirm that the rockets earlier today were fired by the Islamic Jihad, sponsored by Iran," the statement said, shortly before confirming the attacks on the Syrian military posts.

"The IDF holds the Syrian government responsible for the attacks emanating from Syria," the statement further stated.

"Those who are behind the (rockets) attack wanted to send Israel a message that they can fire deeper, and at two targets simultaneously," a military source told the Walla! news website, adding that the IDF estimates the rockets were fired from an area under the Syrian government's control.

Sirens sounded off in the northern Israeli regions of the Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights just after 6 PM local time (GMT 1600), with at least four rockets identified by Israeli security forces, landing near Israeli communities in both regions. No injuries or damages were reported, but several brushfires broke out.

There have been several rocket attacks in the past few years in the area, some of which spillover from the Syrian civil war, as well as intentional attacks, believed to be perpetrated by Islamic organizations, Hezbollah (the Shiite organization based in southern Lebanon), and Syrian security forces, under the sponsorship of Iran, mainly from Syria but also from Lebanon.

Most of the attacks did not yield injuries or damages, but several other attacks, including explosive devices and shooting attacks, took place against Israeli soldiers along the borders.

Four rockets were fired towards the Israeli Golan Heights in January, two of which exploded in Israel's territory. No injuries or damages were reported. The IDF retaliated with artillery into Syria and "confirmed a hit."

Israel reportedly struck Syrian targets several times in the past several years, targeting convoys carrying weapons and top Iranian and Hezbollah officials. Israel did not publicly confirm these reports.

Israeli officials recently warned of an increasing threat in Israel's northern borders due to what they claim is Iran's growing involvement with funneling funds to Hezbollah, a militant Shiite organization in southern Lebanon, and other militant organizations in the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, during a visit to the IDF's northern command, talked about the threat, referring to a comment in which Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Hezbollah chief that the recent nuclear agreement between Iran and the international community "creates an historic opportunity to stand up to the Zionist entity."

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon added that the atmosphere is not quiet in the Golan heights along the Syrian border. "Those who strive for tensions are the Iranians, who trying to operate through proxies in order to carry out attacks against us," Ya'alon said during the same event on Wednesday.

On a related matter, the IDF deployed Iron Dome anti-missile batteries earlier Thursday, both in the southern coastal city of Ashdod and the southern town of Be'er Sheva, amid fears of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip over the high-profile affair in case hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner would die.

Israel's top court on Wednesday suspended the administrative detention of Mohammad Allan, who went on a 64-day hunger strike amid the terms of his detention.

Allan is currently hospitalized in the Barzilay hospital in the southern city of Ashkelon, where doctors estimated he had suffered from brain damage, but did not determine whether it was reversible. He had regained consciousness earlier on Thursday, with a slight improvement reported to his condition.

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