IDF says errant shells launched during fierce battles between Syrian rebels & regime’s forces explode in southern Golan Heights.
The Army decides to downsizes drill in north to reduce tensions. Top IDF Commander reports: ‘There are no winds of war’.
Yoav Zitun, Maor Buchnik
Two mortar shells fired Monday afternoon during battles between the Syrian army and rebels trying to overthrown President Bashar Assad‘s regime exploded in an open area near the border fence in the southern Golan Heights region, near Ramat Magshimim. Another mortar landed in Syrian territory.
No injuries were reported in the incident, which was apparently the result of errant fire.
A blast was heard near the border fence separating Israel at approximately 5:30 pm. Large IDF forces were combing the area in which the explosion was heard. The army estimates the mortars were not fired at Israel intentionally and were not connected to the alleged airstrikes into Syria, which were attributed to Israel.
IDF sources said fierce battles have been raging over the past few hours between Syrian rebels and army forces in a village situated close to the border.
“We just returned from the field, there are crazy battles going on in Syria,” a Ramat Magshimim resident told Ynet. “My wife was frightened so we returned home. They are shooting at each other from village to village. The booms are loud. We are located right on the fence and can see everything.”
Meanwhile, amid heightened tensions following the alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria, the IDF’s Northern Command and Operations Directorate decided on Sunday to significantly downsize the annual military exercise that is scheduled to begin in the north of the country in the coming days.
The 91st Division of the Northern Command, which is responsible for the front with Lebanon, is expected to take part in the drill.
While the army wants to maintain a high level of alertness in the area, its Spokesperson’s Unit said the decision to scale down the drill was taken with a view to avoid flaring up the tense situation in the region any further, as well as to prevent increased activity of military vehicles near the border.
The exercise was planned in advance and is unrelated to the alleged airstrikes in Syria. The army also decided to reduce the participation of IDF reservists in the drill.
Following the airstrikes, the army deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries in the Haifa and Safed areas, and declared that Israel’s northern airspace would remain closed to civilian flights until Thursday. However, as part of the effort to allay the civilians’ concerns, the northern airspace was reopened to civilian aircraft on Monday.
“There are no winds of war,” GOC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Yair Golan stated Monday, briefly discussing the situation in northern Israel.
He made the comments during the Golani Brigade’s biannual run, which began yesterday. Maj. Gen. Golan took part in the run, together withGolani’s soldiers and commanders.
“Alongside with our preparedness and alertness in the north, it is always proper to prepare and to train, and thus the traditional (run) of the Golani Brigade is taking place normally,” he explained. “I am happy that I was part of it.”
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4376842,00.html