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Defense Minister: We Destroyed Syrian Target

Syria says it destroyed an IDF vehicle; IDF denies this, but says IDF vehicle was damaged and IDF fired back.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 5/21/2013, 8:21 AM

IDF artillery tank fires at target (file)
IDF artillery tank fires at target (file)
Israel News Photo: IDF

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and the IDF said Tuesday that Israel has destroyed an unspecified Syrian target after fire from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border damaged an IDF vehicle.

"We will not remain silent regarding fire from Syria at our territory," said Yaalon during a visit to a naval base in Haifa.

"First of all, our policy is clear regarding Syria," he said. "We do not intervene in the civil war there. However, regarding the situation in the Golan Heights – we do not enable and will not enable the fire to spill over into our territory.

"Tonight the Syrian Army target was destroyed after this kind of fire spilled over into our territory in the Golan Heights," he said.

The Syrian army said Tuesday that it has destroyed an IDF vehicle in the Golan Heights, AFP reported. The IDF denied this but admitted that the vehicle had been damaged.

"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, it said.

The statement refers to an incident that took place overnight, in which IDF soldiers patrolling the Golan Heights along the border with Syria fired back after coming under fire.

The Syrian army "fired on an Israeli patrol, which we confirmed six hours ago, but did not destroy a vehicle or kill anyone," Israeli military spokesman Avichai Adraee wrote on Twitter.

An Israeli Defense Forces statement said Tuesday, "Overnight, shots were fired at an IDF patrol on the border in the central Golan Heights, damaging a military vehicle." No one had been wounded, it added.

"In response, IDF forces returned precise fire at the source of the gunfire. They reported a direct hit," the statement added.

"The IDF views the recent incidents in the north with concern and has lodged a complaint with UNDOF," the UN Disengagement Force responsible for patrolling that area.

Early on Monday, the army reported that small-arms fire from Syria hit the Israeli Golan Heights overnight, causing no harm or damage. The army also filed a complaint with the UN force on that occasion.

The Golan Heights have been tense since the beginning of the conflict in Syria more than two years ago.

However, there have been only minor flare-ups in the region to date, with Syrian shells crashing in the Golan and Israel firing in retaliation.