News / Middle East

Israeli Airstrikes in Golan Heights Kill Syrian Soldier

Israeli soldier stands by mobile artillery unit near town of Katzrin, Golan Heights, March 19, 2014.
Israeli soldier stands by mobile artillery unit near town of Katzrin, Golan Heights, March 19, 2014.
VOA News
Israeli airstrikes against Syrian military positions in the Golan Heights killed one soldier and wounded seven in the most serious escalation between the two neighbors since Syria's civil war broke out three years ago.

Syria's military confirmed the casualties from the strikes, which came in response to an attack Tuesday on Israeli forces across the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line in the Golan.

Both sides issued stark warnings following the incidents.

Israeli military officials said the targets Wednesday included an army training facility, military headquarters and artillery batteries that had "aided and abetted" the earlier attack on an Israeli army patrol.

The bomb attack was the third such incident along Israel’s northern borders in less than two weeks and the first to cause Israeli casualties. Four soldiers were wounded, one severely.

An Israeli military spokesman called the blast "an unacceptable escalation of violence from Syria" and vowed that Israel would not tolerate threats to its forces and people.

In Washington Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Israel has a right to defend itself.  She also urged Israel and Syria to adhere to their 1974 cease-fire agreement that called for the two countries to remove their military forces from the Golan Heights and refrain from fighting.

Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it.  The strategic plateau has seen occasional spillover violence from the Syrian civil war.

The latest attacks appear to have been carried out in revenge for a series of airstrikes blamed on Israeli forces over the past year against weapons convoys and warehouses, mostly in Syrian territory.

Israeli says it will act to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons from Syria to the Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah militia, which is currently fighting in Syria to aid that government's fight against Sunni rebel forces.

Also Wednesday, Syria and its Russian ally criticized the decision by the United States to suspend the operations of Syria's embassy in Washington and consulates in other cities.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned the action as a violation of international diplomatic conventions, while Moscow called it "worrying and disappointing."

Syria announced on March 10 it would stop providing consular services in the United States. State Department officials said while embassy and consular activities were affected the U.S. was not severing diplomatic relations with Syria.

Meanwhile, aid officials said a U.N. convoy of about 80 trucks prepared to cross the Turkish border into Syria for the first time, a step they hope will pave the way for humanitarian access to the country's most desperate areas.

The U.N. Security Council last month unanimously called for Syrian authorities and rebels to allow prompt access for humanitarian supplies across front lines and borders by the most direct routes.

Last week, Syria granted its approval to the opening of the border crossing and sources said Turkey has also given the delivery the go-ahead.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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by: Nikol from: Los Angeles
March 19, 2014 4:43 PM
Yay for Israel:)

by: Anonymous
March 19, 2014 3:38 PM
Noone likes war, this is why assad should of been stopped and arrested long ago and this wouldn't be happening. assads thugs will not arrest him, they risk being killed themselves. thug mentality, dropping barrel bombs in populated areas, buildings with families turned to dust, and assad is exempt from war crimes? Who is arming assad enabling assad to commit these crimes? Crimes on both sides but assad is known to have commited crimes. Sicking a military on your own people is not a leader, it is a coward by all means, and is criminal.

by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
March 19, 2014 2:02 PM
What is the use of increase in pain in poor syrian. No body in this world to give food,energy,shelter,water and other basic needs of life. World famous terrorist with the support of CIVILISED NATIONS playing with human body and no body is their to stop them OR rather they gave money and weapons to increase as much as possible pain and unlimited problems for syrian peoples. This is the reward of good education.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
March 19, 2014 12:26 PM
Syria weakens itself with the distraction to attack Israel. Surely it's mission impossible for Syria to have a winner its way with Israel. Right now Syria is making progress in its war prosecution, and the best it should do itself is concentrate more effort in that direction before the so-called humanitarian aid of 80 convoy trucks deliver lethal "humanitarian weapons" to al qaida and allied terrorists with which to rout the Syrian army. Certainly Assad has allowed the Hezbollah too much leverage to infiltrate the Golan Heights. Hezbollah must have initiated the attacks. So Assad should make sure there are no Hezbollah fighters in the borderline with Israel, otherwise they will forget the mission of the Syrian civil war to introduce the agenda of the Liberation and/or Resistance. One thing at a time

But Assad should activate its Russian support to forestall the US introduction from the Turkish entry point that can change the winning equation in the civil war, if Assad wants it to end in his favor, and soon too. Remember, Obama has been rethinking his approach to the red line tripping, recently. This maybe his change of tactics, don't let him correct it at your expense; that is that Assad should not be caught napping - it is called a cut-off in military parlance. If possible, the US and allied forces would like to show their dislike for Russia’s intrigue in Ukraine by destabilizing Syria – this is called proxy war. Think Syria has had enough of war and should be winding down rather than having an escalation through firing at Israel.

by: Oleg from: Russia
March 19, 2014 11:56 AM
Israel is literally besieged by evil... and what Obama pressure them to do..?? carve out Israel's heart and give it to the PLO..!!! - an Islamic terrorist organization. Listen, Israel, Putin will never do that to you, Israel. If you want real friends, Israel, come to Russia. Only Russia can make Iran shut up and silenced forever. Only Russia can make Philistines disappear and sent back to Jordan. Only Russia can pulverize Hamas in Gaza. Israel, you come to Russia.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
March 19, 2014 8:43 AM
Am proud of Israel's ever quick response to what might escalate if not stopped at its instance, if the US had acted to punish Assad's military by dismantling all air defense system, ammunition depots and heavy equipments when the red line was crossed may be Assad's delegates at the Geneva 2 conference would be talking reasonably, now the friends of Syria are now shifted to friends of Ukraine for now.

by: Phillip from: Rustenburg, South Africa
March 19, 2014 7:38 AM
This was long overdue. I hope the same.happens with the untouchable Russia.

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