Syrian rockets hit Israeli-occupied land

Last updated 08:37 07/05/2013

Israel deploys soldiers at its border with Syria as residents support recent air strikes.

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Two rockets fired from Syrian territory have exploded inside the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, authorities say.

The rockets exploded in a field near the ceasefire line in the southern Golan, an Israeli army spokeswoman said. They did not cause casualties or damage, AFP reported.

The rocket fire was "apparently connected to the situation inside Syria," she added, suggesting Israel was not targeted but that it was a spillover of fighting between the Syrian regime and rebels.

"The Israeli army combed the sector the rockets fell in and informed the UN forces deployed in the Golan," the spokeswoman said.

The rocket fire came as tensions between Syria and Israel soared after Israeli air raids on targets in the Syrian capital Damascus on Sunday (Monday, NZT).

The Golan Heights have been tense since the beginning of the conflict in Syria more than two years ago, but there have been only minor flare-ups in the region so far.

Syrian shells have crashed in the occupied area and Israel has fired at the source in retaliation, AFP said.

Israel's weekend airstrike killed at least 42 Syrian soldiers, a group of anti-regime activists said, citing information from military hospitals.

The Syrian government has not released a death toll, but Syrian state media have reported casualties in the pre-dawn airstrike, Israel's third into Syria this year.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said about 150 soldiers are normally stationed in the area that was targeted, but that it was not clear how many were there at the time of the strike.

Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the group, said his sources at Syrian military hospitals gave him information on 42 Syrian soldiers killed in the Israeli attack.

Israel's government has not formally confirmed involvement in strikes on Syria.

However, Israeli officials said the attacks were meant to prevent advanced Iranian weapons from reaching Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, an ally of Syria and foe of Israel.

Syria and its patron Iran have hinted at possible retribution for the strikes, though the rhetoric in official statements has been relatively mild.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi warned that Israel was "playing with fire," but gave no other suggestions of possible consequences, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

Syria's government called the attacks a "flagrant violation of international law" that has made the Middle East "more dangerous."

Israeli officials have indicated they will keep trying to block what they see as an effort by Iran to send sophisticated weapons to Lebanon's Hezbollah militia ahead of a possible collapse of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

Israel, which is technically at war with Syria, has occupied 1200 square kilometres of the Golan Heights, which it annexed, since 1967.

The international community has never recognised Israel's annexation of the territory.

The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has been stationed in the Golan Heights since 1974 to oversee a ceasefire.

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- Agencies

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