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Middle east

Israeli air strikes target Syrian military bases

© afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-19

Israeli air strikes targeted Syrian military sites on Wednesday in retaliation for a roadside bombing that wounded four Israeli troops in the occupied Golan Heights a day earlier, Israeli military sources said.

An army statement said one person was killed and seven others were wounded in the strikes, which targeted three sites near the town of Qunaitra.

The army said the targets included a Syrian military headquarters, a training facility and artillery batteries. Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, described the sites as military facilities on the Syrian-held side of the Golan Heights.

The Israeli soldiers were wounded as they patrolled the separation line on the strategic plateau, which Israel captured and annexed from Syria in the 1967 war. They are Israel’s worst military casualties in the area since the start of Syria's civil more than three years ago.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said in a statement that the Syrian army had aided and abetted the attack on the soldiers.

“We hold the Assad regime responsible for what happens in its territory, and if it continues to collaborate with terrorists striving to hurt Israel, then we will keep on exacting a heavy price from it and make it regret its actions,” Yaalon said.

It was the latest in a series of incidents in the volatile area. Last week, a roadside bomb went off near a military patrol along the Lebanese border, causing no injuries. Earlier this month, the army said it killed two militants affiliated with Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group fighting alongside Syrian government troops, who were trying to plant a bomb along the frontier.

Parts of the Syrian-held side of the Golan are controlled by rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including al Qaeda-inspired militants hostile to Israel.

Spillover violence from the Syrian civil war has often drawn Israel to return fire against Syrian military positions, ending what had previously been a stable, decades-old stand-off between the foes on the Golan Heights.

Israel is believed to have struck inside Syria several times since 2013, targeting advanced weapons it believed were intended for Hezbollah. Tel Aviv has neither confirmed nor denied the attacks.

Hezbollah accused Israel of carrying out an air strike on one of its bases on the Lebanon-Syria border last month and vowed to respond.

Israel, in turn, said it would hold the Beirut government responsible if Hezbollah attacked it from Lebanese territory.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)

Date created : 2014-03-19

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