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      UN Envoy: Golan Fighting Could Draw Israel into Syrian War

      UN's Mideast envoy: The clashes between Syria's army and rebels on the Golan Heights risk drawing Israel into Syria's civil war.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 9/18/2013, 5:44 AM

      Golan Heights
      Golan Heights
      Flash 90

      The United Nations’ Mideast envoy warned on Tuesday that the clashes between Syria's army and rebels on the Golan Heights risk drawing Israel into Syria's civil war.

      The Associated Press quoted the envoy, Robert Serry, as having told the Security Council the fighting could "jeopardize the ceasefire" between Israel and Syria that has been in place since 1974, monitored by UN peacekeepers.

      Serry said that during "heavy clashes" last Thursday between Syrian troops and the opposition, five artillery shells and one tank shell landed on the Israeli side of the truce line.

      He noted that the Israelis did not retaliate.

      The Golan has been tense since the beginning of the civil war in Syria more than two years ago, but so far there have only been minor flare-ups as Syrian small arms fire or mortar rounds hit the Israeli side, prompting an occasional Israeli response.

      Last month, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor sent a letter of complaint to the Security Council denouncing a series of Syrian violations of the 1974 ceasefire agreement between the two countries. 

      In one of these incidents, gunfire from the Syrian side of the border hit close to an IDF patrol in the northern Golan Heights. There were no injuries or damages.

      The spillover from the Syrian civil war has also affected the UN troops stationed in the Golan Heights. Earlier this year, Austria withdrew its troops from the UN monitoring force after the soldiers were repeatedly endangered by the Syrian fighting.

      In one incident, Syrian rebels abducted 21 Philippine members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). They were released to Jordan several days later.

      In another incident, shots were fired at a UN observation post. The body said after this incident it was “actively reviewing” the safety of its UN observers in the Golan Heights.