Israel: Assad to ‘bear consequences’ if strikes on Golan continue

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The Israeli military chief issued a stern warning to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, saying the Syrian leader would “bear the consequences” if there are any more attacks on Israeli forces near the Syrian border, the Associated Press reported.

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz issued his threat hours after Syria claimed it destroyed an Israeli vehicle that crossed the cease-fire line in the Golan Heights overnight.

The Israeli military said the vehicle suffered light damage. It said that the Israeli troops reported a “direct hit” from the return fire but provided no further details.

“Overnight, shots were fired at an Israeli Defense Force patrol on the border in the central Golan Heights, damaging a military vehicle,” said a statement on the Israeli army’s website. No one had been wounded, it added.

“In response, IDF forces returned precise fire at the source of the gunfire. They reported a direct hit,” the statement added.

“The IDF views the recent incidents in the north with concern and has lodged a complaint with UNDOF,” the U.N. Disengagement Force responsible for patrolling that area.

Syria’s army said it had destroyed an Israeli military vehicle that it said had crossed the sensitive ceasefire line in the Golan Heights, the military declared on Tuesday in a televised statement.

“Our armed forces have destroyed an Israeli vehicle with everything that it had in it... The vehicle had crossed the ceasefire line and was moving towards the village of Bir Ajam, situated in the liberated Syrian zone” of the Golan, the statement said.

But the Jewish state denied one of its vehicles had been destroyed.

The Syrian army "fired on an Israeli patrol, which we confirmed six hours ago, but did not destroy a vehicle or kill anyone," Israeli military spokesman Avichai Adraee wrote on Twitter.

The Golan Heights have been tense since the beginning of the conflict in Syria more than two years ago.

However, there have been only minor flare-ups in the region to date, with Syrian shells crashing in the occupied Golan and Israel firing in retaliation.

The attack on Tuesday follows similar reports of shots fired from Syria on the Golan Heights on Monday, where an Al Arabiya reporter said the shots hit near an Israeli military patrol.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that shots were fired, but she said it was not clear whether the gunfire was intentional.

The shots were “most likely were stray bullets, we don’t know if it was intentional,” the spokeswoman told AFP news agency, adding that the Israeli army had not fired back and that Israel had submitted a complaint to the United Nations force in the region.

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