Israeli attack helicopters on Friday night struck several military targets in southern Syria belonging to the Syrian military, in response to munitions fired at Israel earlier in the day, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Targets included “observation positions and intelligence-gathering tools inside Syrian posts,” the military said.
Syrian state news agency SANA said the strikes injured two soldiers, hit three sites and caused fires.
Arabic media reports said missiles had hit anti-aircraft batteries near Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights.
The incident in the morning saw explosions heard along the border and shrapnel striking a home and a car on the Israeli side in the Druze town of Majdal Shams, causing light damage. The cause was reported to be either anti-aircraft fire toward an IDF observation balloon or an artillery shell fired from Syria toward Israel, possibly by accident.
“The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsible for the fire against Israel earlier today,” the army said in a statement. “The IDF will continue operating with determination and will respond to any violation of Israeli sovereignty.”
The incidents came amid heightened tensions between Israel and the Hezbollah terror group, which maintains a presence in the Syrian Golan Heights, after one of the organization’s fighters was killed in an airstrike attributed to Israel on Monday night.
The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, made an unannounced visit to Israel on Friday, meeting with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi and Mossad director Yossi Cohen, along with other top brass. Israeli television commentators speculated on the possible significance of the visit, particularly regarding the threat posed by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
The IDF further stepped up its defenses along the country’s northern borders on Friday, the army said, out of concern the Hezbollah terror group may carry out an attack against military targets along the frontier in retaliation and warned Beirut it would bear responsibility for any possible Hezbollah strike.
“In light of a situational assessment in the IDF and in accordance with the Northern Command’s defense plan, the IDF’s deployment will change in both the military and civilian arena with the goal of strengthening defenses along the northern border,” the IDF said in a statement.
In a tacit threat, the IDF preemptively warned Beirut that it sees the state of Lebanon as “responsible for all actions emanating from Lebanon.”
Beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday night, roadblocks were installed along a number of highways to prevent military vehicles vulnerable to attack from anti-tank guided missiles fired from either Lebanon or Syria, from driving on certain roads.
Entrances to some communities where the military maintains a presence that are exposed to attack were also blocked for IDF vehicles. As the military assessed that Hezbollah planned to attack only IDF targets, civilian vehicles will be able to travel freely throughout the area.
IAF military helicopters struck Syrian Arab Army targets in southern Syria in retaliation for Syrian fire toward the Golan Heights earlier on Friday, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said Friday night.
According to the IDF, the helicopters attacked several observation posts and intelligence facilities located in Syrian military bases in the area.
"The IDF sees the Syrian regime as the one responsible for the fire earlier today and will continue to act with determination, retaliating for every violation of the sovereignty of the State of Israel," the unit said in a statement. According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), three posts were attacked by the IAF in the area of Quneitra on the Israeli-Syrian border, wounding two military personnel. Earlier on Friday, blasts were heard on the Syrian side of the border area, with shrapnel from the explosions damaging a vehicle and a building in Israel, according to the IDF. Following an assessment of the situation in the northern parts of Israel following the reported assassination of a Hezbollah official in Damascus, the IDF upped its alert level in the North, reinforcing troops and artillery in the area. Hezbollah announced Tuesday that its member Kamel Moshen Jawad was killed in alleged IAF strikes Monday night in Damascus. Five pro-Iranian Shia militants were reportedly killed in the strikes.