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Israeli aircraft hit Syria after squad tried to bomb border fence, military says

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Israeli aircraft attacked targets in Syria on Monday, the military said, describing the strikes as retaliation for an attempted bombing of the border fence by an enemy squad.

Tensions have risen along Israel’s northern front since a fighter with the Iranian-backed Lebanese movement Hezbollah was killed in an apparent Israeli air strike in Syria two weeks ago.

Monday’s strikes hit Syrian observation posts, intelligence collection systems, anti-aircraft batteries and command-and-control bases, an Israeli military statement said.

Syrian state media said Israeli helicopters fired at Syrian checkpoints in al-Qunaitra, on the Golan Heights, causing material losses. There was no immediate word of any casualties.

The Israeli military said it was responding to an attempt by a group of four people to plant explosives on a patrolled fence along the Golan armistice line between Israel and Syria.

In that incident, reported by Israel early on Monday, the military fired on the squad. Surveillance video showed the group engulfed in an explosion. An Israeli military spokesman referred to them as “former terrorists,” suggesting they had been killed.

The military spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, said it was too soon to say if the squad belonged to any organization, but that Israel held “the Syrian regime accountable”.

There was no comment from Syria on the fence incident.

The overnight encounter occurred at the same spot where until two years ago, Israel had operated a field hospital to treat Syrians who had been wounded in the Syrian civil war, Conricus told reporters.

Israel had noticed “irregular activity” in that area for about a week and had a commando team waiting there in ambush, Conricus said.

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