IDF kills 7 armed terrorists in Syrian Golan
In late night strike, IAF attacks terrorists from an ISIS-linked group in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, 200 metres from the Israeli border 'preventing grave incident'; explosives and an AK-47 found in the area after the strike; Lieberman: 'There is a clear address' to incidents on Syrian border now.
An Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a group of armed ISIS-affiliated terrorists in the Syrian southern Golan Heights early Thursday, killing seven of them and preventing a "grave incident" on Wednesday night.
The IDF said in a statement it had targeted "several armed terror operatives in the southern Syrian Golan Heights."
The incident began around 10:30pm on Wednesday, when the terrorists were spotted around 200 meters from the border fence, just north of the Israel-Syria-Jordan border.
On Thursday morning, Nahal Brigade forces searched the area and found the terrorists’ bodies, identifying them as members of the ISIS-linked group known as the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade.
Five AK-47 assault rifle, bullet-proof vests, grenades and apparently explosive belts were all found on the terrorists.
"Assad’s forces are currently in the final stages of recapturing of the Syrian Golan and are operating in the south of the Golan against ISIS-linked groups, and as a result of that we see ISIS fighters dispersed throughout the area near the border, as they flee the areas occupied by Assad," IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said.
“The incident did not surprise us. Our intelligence forces monitor the area and are always prepared. We cannot unequivocally say what they intended to do, but they were advancing towards the fence. There was no threat, at any stage, to our towns or our forces," he added.
The incident took place near the area still controlled by an ISIS-linked group, which has about 300 fighters and is the only one in the Syrian Golan that has not yet surrendered to the Syrian army.
It is probable that the group was behind last week's rocket attack, when two rockets landed in the Kinneret, in an effort to force Israel to retaliate and strike the Syrian military.
The IDF is now investigating whether the group planned a ground attack in Israeli territory in an effort to drag the IDF into the civil war in Syria.
Visiting the Syrian border on Thursday morning, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman noted the incidents in the region now have a "clear address" after Syrian President Bashar Assad had recaptured the area from ISIS.
The defense minister also predicted that the Golan Heights frontier would be quieter from now on.
"From our perspective, the situation is returning to how it was before the civil war, meaning there is a real address, someone responsible, and a central rule," Lieberman told reporters.
Asked whether Israelis should be less wary of potential Golan flare-ups, Lieberman said: "I believe so."
Lieberman also added that Israel will not intervene or interfere in Syria as long as there is “Strict adherence to the separation agreement of 1974; Syrian territory does not serve as an Iranian front base against the State of Israel; and Syria isn't be a main transit station for arms smuggling to Hezbollah in Lebanon."
Meanwhile, Russian news agency Interfax reported that Russian military police will be deployed along the Golan Heights border between Syria and Israel. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, eight surveillance posts will be established to prevent escalation.
"With the aim of preventing possible provocations against UN posts along the 'Bravo' line, a deployment of eight observation posts of Russia's armed forces' military police is planned," Sergei Rudskoi, a senior Defense Ministry official was quoted by Interfax as saying.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's envoy said on Wednesday that Iranian forces had withdrawn their heavy weapons to a distance of 85 kilometers from the Israel-Syria border.
Reuters contributed to this report.