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Israel says it hit 14 Syrian army posts after rocket strike


220px-Bashar_al-Assad_(cropped)Israel on Friday said that it carried out strikes on 14 Syrian army positions in the Golan Heights on Thursday night in response to rocket fire.

“The Israel Defence Forces targeted 14 Syrian military posts in the Syrian Golan Heights,” the Israeli army said in a statement early Friday, without elaborating.

The military had earlier reported four rockets from Syria hitting the Galilee region of northern Israel and the occupied Golan, in attacks that did not cause any casualties.

Previous border fire has frequently been attributed to spillover from fighting inside Syria and to Islamist rebels holding ground close to the Israeli-held sector of the strategic plateau.

But Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said the latest barrage was launched from positions under the control of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

“The fire was carried out from territory controlled by the Assad regime, which allows terrorist activity against Israel and which we hold as also responsible,” he said in a statement Thursday night.

He said the actual assault was “carried out by a terrorist cell of Islamic Jihad, operated, funded and armed by Iran.”

Iran is one of Assad’s strongest backers and a sponsor of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The militant group has its headquarters in Damascus.

Israel’s foreign ministry said on Friday that the Islamic Jihad force which carried out Thursday’s fire was under the operational command of an officer of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

“We have credible information that the attack was carried out by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organisation and was facilitated and directed by an Iranian operative, Saaed Izaadhi,” ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.

He said that Izaadhi heads a Palestinian unit in the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force.

The UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says Israel hit regime positions in the Syrian-held sector of the Golan and that Syrian troops were killed in the strikes.

The state-run Syrian news agency SANA said an Israeli helicopter fired rockets at Quneitra in the Syrian sector of the Golan Heights. The strikes hit two local government buildings but caused only material damage, it said.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan from neighbouring Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it 14 years later, in a move never recognised by the international community.

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