Attack reportedly foiled at Syria-Golan border

Militants who were targeted by an IDF airstrike at the Syria-Golan border. Credit: Israel Defense Forces

After several tense weeks along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated it had thwarted an attack near Tel Fares at the Syria-Golan border Sunday evening.

“We just thwarted an attempt by four terrorists to place explosives near the security fence between Israel and Syria. Our troops and aircraft fired toward the squad and a hit was identified. We are ready for any scenario and hold the Syrian regime responsible for all events in Syria,” the IDF stated via its Twitter account.

The statement of holding the Syrian regime responsible materialized a little over 24 hours later when the IDF assaulted several Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions in southern Syria.

“In response to an attempted IED attack near the security fence between Syria & Israel last night, we just struck SAF targets in Syria including: observation posts, intel collection systems, anti-aircraft artillery, and command & control systems. We hold Syria responsible,” the IDF statement read.

Providing further proof of the attackers intent on Sunday, images and video were published by the IDF identifying the location of the incident including what the IDF said was a bag containing explosives used by the men. Weapons carried by the militants were found 25 meters inside Israeli territory suggesting they successfully crossed over the border fence before they were targeted.

The identity of the men and their affiliation has not been determined but the IDF did not rule out the possibility they belonged to Hezbollah, whose fighters have been documented operating in the area since last year.

Another alternative is the men could have belonged to a Syrian-based militia group sent by Iran to carry out an operation against IDF troops as retribution for Israeli airstrikes against pro-Iranian positions in Syria on July 20.

As of now, Syria and Hezbollah have not publicly commented about the incident. However, it was announced Monday that Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah will deliver a speech on Wednesday.

It is not without precedence that Hezbollah could retaliate from Syrian territory. However, it is unlikely the militants were members of the group. There have not been any claims by Hezbollah or any other group of responsibility for the strike. Also, the men’s actions and movements recorded on camera were uncharacteristic of well-trained Hezbollah militants. It bore a resemblance to poorly trained Palestinian fighters who’ve previously attacked IDF troops along the Gaza-Israel border.

By assessing the unlikelihood of Hezbollah’s involvement in Sunday night’s assault, the IDF is forced to continue its heightened state of alert in anticipation of the next attack along its northern border.

Joe Truzman is a contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.

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