More Than 30 Syrians Killed on Demilitarized Golan

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

More than 30 Syrian soldiers and rebels have been killed in clashes over the past week in a demilitarized zone of the Golan Heights facing Israeli-held territory, a monitoring group reported on Friday.

Israel's deputy prime minister Moshe Yaalon, meanwhile, warned Damascus it would act to defend its sovereignty if the fighting continued to spill over into the Israeli-occupied part of the Golan.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army and rebels have clashed in the Briqa, Bir Ajam and al-Hersh regions of Quneitra province.

Three rebels and a soldier died on Friday, the Britain-based group's director Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France Presse, raising to more than 30 killed on the two sides in the past week.

Quneitra province, southwest of Damascus, incorporates the Golan Heights, of which a part is occupied and annexed by Israel, which has been officially in a state of war with Syria since its 1967 seizure of the territory.

Yaalon's comments on his Twitter account came a day after three stray mortar rounds fired from Syria hit the occupied Golan.

"We see the Syrian regime as responsible for what is happening along the border," said Yaalon, a senior cabinet minister and former armed forces chief of staff.

"If we see that it spills over in our direction, we know how to defend the citizens and the sovereignty of the State of Israel," said the minister.

"The other side has received a lot of messages recently and until now, has acted accordingly in Syria. I hope that in this incident too, there will be someone who takes this in hand."

The three mortar rounds which struck the Golan on Thursday were the latest in a string of incidents in which fire has spilled across the ceasefire line onto the Israeli side.

On Monday, an Israeli military vehicle patrolling the buffer zone was hit by gunfire, with the army acknowledging it was caused by "stray bullets."

No one was injured but the incident prompted an Israeli complaint to the United Nations Security Council in which it described the gunfire as a "grave violation" of a 1974 agreement on security in the buffer zone.

"Israel has shown maximum restraint. However, Israel views the continued violations of the Separation of Forces agreement by the Syrian military forces with the utmost concern," Israel's U.N. ambassador Ron Prosor said.

On November 3, three Syrian tanks entered Bir Ajam village, sparking another Israeli complaint to the U.N.

Since Israel and Syria signed the 1974 disengagement agreement, a 1,200-strong unarmed U.N. force has patrolled the buffer zone.

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