Israeli Aircraft Attack Syrian Army Position, Israel Denies Any Shot Down

Smoke from explosions rises during fighting in the village of Jubata Al Khashab in Syria, as seen from the Israeli side of the border fence between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights September 11, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Israel said its aircraft attacked a Syrian army position after a stray mortar bomb struck the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, and it denied a Syrian statement that a warplane and drone were shot down, reported Reuters.

The air strike was a now-routine Israeli response to the occasional spillover from fighting in a five-year-old civil war, and across Syria a ceasefire was holding at the start of its second day.

Syria’s army command said in a statement that Israeli warplanes had attacked an army position at 1 a.m. on Tuesday (2200 GMT, Monday) in the countryside of Quneitra province.

The Israeli military said its aircraft attacked targets in Syria hours after the mortar bomb from fighting among factions in Syria struck the Golan Heights. Israel captured the plateau from Syria in a 1967 war.

After a rocket fell on Israeli territory less than 24 hours ago, three more shells from Syria were located in the Golan Heights on Tuesday afternoon. The IDF believes that the mortar fire was likely the result of fighting taking place in the war-torn country. The ‘fallout’ further intensifies tensions on Israel’s northern border after Syria attempted to shoot down an Israeli fighter jet on Monday night.

The rocket fell on open territory close to civilian areas near Kibbutz Ein Zivan located near Route 98, which was temporarily closed by security forces. No injuries were reported as a result of the fire, according to the IDF. The first ‘spillover’ shell, which was spotted at around 1pm by the IDF, occurred just half a day after IDF planes struck at Syrian artillery cannons, responding to another apparent ‘spillover’ mortar shell that landed in the Israeli Golan on Monday night.

With tensions mounting on the northern border and Israel weary of a potential escalation with its northern neighbors, the IDF conducted a civilian evacuation drill in the western Galilee region. The 91st Division, in conjunction with local municipal authorities and national emergency authorities simulated an evacuation of residents from the border-adjacent town of Ya’ara, which is home to a population of several hundred.

The evacuation was intended to prepare the residents for such potential scenarios during times of time of war, and a rehearsal which stems from lessons learned by the IDF – specifically, the Home Front Command – after the Second Lebanon War and Operation Protective Edge. It included coordinating between the residents an authorities of the evacuated towns and the authorities in the towns to which they are being evacuated.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Syrian Foreign Ministry wrote to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the UN Security Council. “The news Israeli aggression is an attempt to heighten the lowered morale of terror organizations…,” the statement read.

“Syria demands that the UN Security Council takes appropriate steps in order to punish aggressive Israel, and to force it to stop its aggression without delay and to stop supporting and protecting terrorists,” it continued.

The Syrian army said it had shot down an Israeli warplane and a drone after the Israeli attack.

Denying any of its aircraft had been lost, the Israeli military said in a statement: “Overnight two surface-to-air missiles were launched from Syria after the mission to target Syrian artillery positions. At no point was the safety of (Israeli) aircraft compromised.”

The seven-day truce in Syria, brokered by Russia and the United States, is their second attempt this year by to halt the bloodshed.