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Israel's Iron Dome shoots down two ‘projectiles’ fired from Syria

It was the first time Iron Dome had seen action on the Golan, according to military spokesman

Published: Updated:

Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system on Saturday shot down two stray ‘projectiles’ fired during fighting in Syria's civil war, Israel's military said.

There has been frequent spillover of fighting between the factions in Syria into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, but this was the first time Iron Dome was activated to intercept the errant fire.

“An additional projectile fired from Syria was intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system. No injuries reported,” the military said in a statement, shortly after the system had first activated.

Israel usually retaliates with air strikes against battle stations in Syria.

The military has stationed Iron Dome batteries in areas that have been targeted by cross-border fire, which is most frequently from Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. The system usually only fires an interceptor if the enemy rocket is calculated to strike near a populated area.

Israel has largely stayed on the sidelines of Syria's civil war, keeping watch over the Golan frontier .

"This is the first time that fire from Syria has been intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system” a military spokesman told AFP in response to a query.

It was a marked departure from recent tit-for-tat artillery fire and occasional retaliatory air strikes.

Israel deployed batteries on its northern flank as a precautionary measure after a 2015 Israeli air strike against the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group’s forces in Syria.

Israeli public radio said that the military believed the fire from Syria was an unintentional spillover from the country’s complex civil war which is now in its sixth year.

Israel has sought to avoid being drawn in to the conflict, but has attacked Syrian military targets when fire fell on its side of the divide.

On Tuesday, Israeli aircraft targeted Syrian army positions after what the military said was probably stray fire hit the Israeli-occupied zone.

Syria said it had shot down an Israeli warplane and a drone, a claim denied by Israel.

Increased tension

The increased tension comes after a fragile new Syrian ceasefire brokered by Russia and the United States came into force on Monday.

The truce does not apply to areas held bymilitants such as the ISIS group.

The Israeli army holds the Syrian government accountable for any fire from its territory, regardless of the source.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

During the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip enclave, Israel deployed its Iron Dome system on land to shoot down rockets fired into the Jewish state.

Funding for the missile system was part of an unprecedented $38 billion US military aid package signed in Washington on Wednesday.

The deal covers the period from 2019 to 2028, and will see Israel receive $3.3 billion per year in foreign military financing -- up from $3.1 billion per year currently -- and $500,000 a year in funding for missile defense.