Syrian forces, IDF exchange fire for third time this week; Israel returns fire after IDF jeep damaged by the gunfire, but denies Syrian claims vehicle destroyed.
The Syrian government took responsibility for firing at Israeli forces on Tuesday, marking the first time that the regime of President Bashar Assad has made such a claim.
Syrian forces fired at Israeli forces on Monday night, the third such incident this week. At approximately 1:00 AM, Syrian forces fired at IDF troops patrolling near Tel Fares in the central Golan Heights. No one was wounded, but an army jeep was damaged.
Syrian State TV reported Tuesday afternoon that the Syrian army destroyed an armored Israel Defense Forces vehicle that entered the demilitarized zone between the two countries in Bir Ajam and that at least one person was inside when it exploded. Senior IDF officials told Haaretz that the claim the vehicle was destroyed was fabricated.
The Syrian declaration comes after more than 10 such incidents took place over the last year.
The IDF believes the assumption of responsibility for the fire is part of a new policy adopted by Assad since the aerial attacks in April to open a front against Israel on the Golan Heights.
Responding to events on the Syrian border, Defense Minister Moshe Boogie Ayalon said "Our policy is clear: We do not interfere in what goes on in Syria, or in its civil war. As for the situation in the Golan Heights, we do not and will not allow any Syrian fire to enter our territory. Last night a Syrian army target was destroyed as a result of such fire."
Following the incident, the Artillery Corps returned fire with precision Tammuz missiles. IDF officials said that a military response to the firing incidents on the border was being considered in detail and in accordance with a situation assessment in progress. It is not yet known whether the gunfire was aimed at the IDF troops or was stray fire from the nearby fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels.