Israel, Syria show teeth: Third cross-border shootout in week

Israeli troops opened "retaliating" fire at targets across the Syrian border with Syria later claiming it destroyed an Israeli military vehicle stationed in Golan Heights. This is a third consecutive cross-border shooting in a week, Israeli media say.

The footage the Israeli army shared with RT shows the Syrian side firing first followed by return fire from the Israelis.

The Israeli military said their troops had “returned precise fire” after a Syrian soldier allegedly caused damage to a military vehicle stationed in Golan Heights, near the border. 

The shots “most likely were stray bullets, we don't know if it was intentional,” an Israeli spokesperson told AFP. There were no injuries following the initial shots.

Soon after that the Syrian military declared in a televised statement that in response they had successfully targeted a further Israeli vehicle:

"Our armed forces have destroyed an Israeli vehicle with everything that it had in it... The vehicle had crossed the ceasefire line and was moving towards the village of Bir Ajam, situated in the liberated Syrian zone[of the Golan]."

This is the first time the Syrian government claimed responsibility for firing into the Israeli territory. 

Tel-Aviv denied the claims. Israel’s Army Radio however said the Tuesday incident was the third consecutive cross-border shooting this week and the military considers the incident to be concerning.

Israel's military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz also warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that the Syrian leader would “bear the consequences” if there were any more attacks on Israeli forces.

An Israeli Merkava tank is positioned for deployment during a drill in the Israeli annexed Golan Heights near the border with Syria on May 5, 2013. (AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana)

Cross-border gunfire incidents have become a more frequent occurrence in recent months amid the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Fire from the conflict within Syria has intermittently struck Golan Heights, with Israel generally accepting these incidents as accidental. However, Israel has occasionally retaliated for the bullets and infrequent mortar shells entering the border territory, which they captured from Syria in 1967.

Airstrikes – attributed to Israel, but not confirmed – struck military posts in Syria at the beginning of May, with the blasts reportedly killing scores of soldiers.

Israel has never made an official comment on the strikes, but only stated it would do everything against the prospect of its foes in Lebanon obtaining weapons smuggled through Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Sochi exactly a week ago, with both agreeing that the two -year Syrian armed conflict, if continued, could lead to “disastrous consequences” for the region.