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Israeli forces attacked Syrian military positions Wednesday after they claimed a stray mortar shell landed inside the illegally occupied Golan Heights. The move came as the Syrian Army continued to fend off attacks by jihadist fighters in Syria's Quneitra province, including those who admit to receiving aid from Tel Aviv.
The Israeli aggression came in response to an alleged stray Syrian shell that landed in the Golan Heights, causing no injuries, but in response, the army "targeted the Syrian military position that fired the mortar.”
Israeli forces struck a target in the village of Samadanieh al Sharqiyah in Quneitra province, close to territory where jihadist forces have been engaged in heavy clashes with the Syrian Army for the last week, Lebanese broadcaster al Mayadeen and a U.K.-based war monitor said.
The General Command of the Syrian Arab Armed Forces said the attack followed the government's thwarting of a wide-scale offensive on the area surrounding al-Baath city in the Quneitra countryside by the forces of “Nusra Front,” an al-Qaida affiliate that has since rebranded itself as the “Levant Liberation Committee.” The general command added that the move was a “desperate attempt” by the Israelis to support terrorist groups who continue to suffer heavy losses inflicted by the country's armed forces, according to the SANA news agency.
The Syrian general command further warned of the risks and serious repercussions of such attacks, noting the army's resolve to crush terrorist groups that are used as “the Israeli enemy's proxy in the region.”
There has been an increase in Tel Aviv's complaints about alleged errant shells hitting the Israeli-held Golan in the past few days. On each occasion, Israel has responded aggressively by targeting Syrian Army positions with its jets, destroying tanks while killing civilians and Syrian army soldiers.
Israeli occupation forces seized 70 percent of the Golan Heights from Syria during its expansionist military campaign in 1967 and later annexed the strategic region in a blatantly colonialist move backed by Tel Aviv's financiers in the United States. In September 2016, the U.S. agreed to US$38 billion in new military aid to Israel, which comes to US$3.8 billion a year, making it the largest bilateral military aid package in history.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a report revealing that the Quneitra-based Fursan al-Joulan, or the Knights of the Golan, recently admitted that they have been receiving payment from the Israeli occupiers, who hope to create a buffer of “friendly forces” between the occupation and the Syrian government. The cooperation began when the Israelis began assisting Syrian fighters, including alleged “Islamist extremists,” through medical care at Israeli hospitals, in a relationship that soon led to direct funding for fighters for salaries, ammunition and weapons.
Responding to the article, chief military-security correspondent of national Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Alex Fishman, admitted that the Israelis are placing their military weight on the scales of the Syrian conflict in hopes that they can use jihadist to wear down their Syrian and Iranian enemies.
“The Israeli view is that the religious extremist views of the Syrian rebels are less relevant," Fishman said, than their presumed capacity to combat Israel’s enemies — Iran and Hezbollah. Cited by Middle East Eye, Fishman continued, “Israel believes that what interests them (the rebels) above all is survival; and that it’s possible to buy their loyalty through material aid which helps guarantee their own security … According to Israel’s perspective, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
As the Syrian Army continues to press its offensive against Gulf Arab and Western-backed opposition forces, driving them out of the large expanses of the country they once controlled, U.S.-led coalition forces and the Israeli military have launched largely unprovoked attacks on what it deems “pro-regime forces,” ranging from unmanned aerial vehicles to Syrian tanks and militias present in the country at the invitation of the country's legitimate government.