Israeli tanks opened fire across the Syrian border yesterday, in an attempt to give a warning to several suspicious and identified figures spotted manning military posts on the Syrian side.
The incident took place during a military operation in the occupied Golan Heights, when Israeli troops identified a number of figures who were guarding or conducting activity at “military posts” across the Syrian side of the border.
According to the Israeli military, forces then fired flares and warning shots from tanks towards the posts, causing them to flee the area. Israeli helicopters and other aircraft then reportedly hovered overhead in the area.
The Syrian radio station, Sham FM, also reported that the tank shots struck a number of sites in the village of Al-Hurriyah in Syria’s south-western province of Quneitra.
That region of Syria is known to be manned and inhabited by Iranian-backed groups and militias such as Hezbollah, which are allied to the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad. It is not known, however, if the figures were fighters from such groups.
The Israeli military has insisted that it did not violate rules of engagement along the border or Syria’s territory, as the shots were fired as a warning and were fired from Israeli territory – although the Golan Heights initially belong to Syria but has been occupied by Israel since 1967 and annexed since 1981.
In October, Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, said that Israel would maintain its rule over the Golan Heights even if the Syrian regime is again granted recognition by the United States and the international community, ruling out the possibility of it being handed back to Syria in negotiations.
The Israeli tanks’ shots across the border is the latest of numerous incidents and disputes that have taken place in the area, with Damascus having accused Tel Aviv in October of assassinating a Syrian intelligence officer near the border.