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22 Aug, 2016 19:03

Israel shells Syria after stray mortar crosses into its territory

Israel shells Syria after stray mortar crosses into its territory

The IDF says it has attacked a Syrian Army launch site near Israel’s border in the Golan Heights, after a Syrian mortar landed inside Israeli territory. The initial incident produced no casualties or damage, according to Israeli media.

Israel believes that the mortar, which landed next to a minefield, was not aimed at its land, but nonetheless dispatched aircraft to neutralize the source of the firing. In accordance with its policy, Israel holds Damascus responsible for any overspill from its internal conflict, and considers any rockets that breach the border a direct attack. IDF planes have made dozens of such sorties since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

While the majority of the Golan Heights have been in Israeli possession since it won the Six-Day War in 1967, the Syrian side of the border has been a focal point for fighting between the Syrian government and the Al Nusra Front, a militant Islamist organization.

Israeli media has also reported that anti-Israel group Hezbollah is exploiting the chaos to establish its own positions, which could then be used to bombard the sparsely-settled area that lies next to the border.

The previous night, the IDF hit up to 50 targets in Gaza after an aimed shell landed near a house in the Jewish town of Sderot.

The strikes were aimed at the territory’s various anti-Israel militias including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, although responsibility for the mortar was taken by a small, radical Salafist group, Ahfad al-Sahaba.

The ground and air assault targeted military infrastructure, though Palestinian media said that two people were hurt, and a water tower was destroyed in the strikes.