Previous mortar shell near Elrom
Photo: Avihu Shapira

Syrian threat: Mortar in Golan, Putin visits S-300 factory

After few peaceful weeks, Syrian fire reaches Israel once again: Stray shell lands near Israeli kibbutz. Meanwhile, Russian leader visits missile production factory, says Moscow will respect agreement with Assad

After several quiet weeks in the Golan Heights, a mortar shell fired from Syria exploded in a plantation near Kibbutz Elrom on Thursday.


The shell's landing was most likely the result of errant fire which occurred during battles between rebels and Syrian troops in the Jobta village in the demilitarized zone in the Golan Heights. There were no casualties.


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The IDF reported that no response was made towards the Syrian side. Uzi Livne, a resident of Kibbutz Elrom, said that "(the mortar shell) fell far from here, in the plantation, but everyone heard it. The plantation was empty; no one works here at those hours."


קרבות בין כוחות סוריים באזור קוניטרה (צילום: רויטרס)

Syrian battles near Quneitra (Photo: Reuters)


As a result of the explosion, a small fire broke out in the plantation and firefighters were called to the scene. Dalia Amos, spokesperson for the Golan Regional Council, clarified that "we did not receive any special instructions; we are carrying on as usual."



Earlier Thursday, a spokesperson for one of the rebel organizations in Quneitra, Abu Jafar, told Al-Jazeera that the rebels will not fight Israel if its forces enter Syria. "We will leave the fighting to Hezbollah and Bashar Assad's men. We will not fight Israel," he said.


The fire from Syria is less worrisome to Israel than the possibility of Syrian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles reaching President Bashar Assad or Hezbollah. The Russians clarified Thursday that the option is still on the table. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow will execute the S-300 missile deal: "We respect all of our contracts and fulfill all commitments." However, he emphasized that the missile purchase agreement has yes to be finalized.


Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the factory that produces the S-300 missiles on Thursday. According to a report on RT network, the missiles can intercept targets ranging from 30 to 120 kilometers (18 to 75 miles). During the visit, Putin said: "The S-300 system is one of the best in the world. The contract with Damascus has been signed years ago and has yet to be realized."


While the Syrian situation is still escalating, the IDF conducted a four-day exercise in the north of Israel. The exercise, which ended Thursday, included the participation of reserve troops, as well as the Air Force and the Navy. In light of the international tensions surrounding the war in Syria, and due to the recent budget cuts to the Israeli defense forces, it was emphasized by the IDF that the drill was planned well in advance.


Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday at the IDF Officer Training School graduation that "the IDF is faced, from within and from outside, from near and far, with a large number of fronts of uncertainty. We have such a front in Syria, where the civil war continues to claim a heavy toll of human lives, a war that is reaching our borders and faces us with a complex and meaningful test."



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פרסום ראשון: 06.20.13, 22:20
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