IAF Bolsters Sorties Along Syrian Border; Any Spillover ‘Will Cost Them Dearly’
Senior Israel Defense Force officials said in recent days that they will not countenance any infiltrations by Syrian aircraft or ground vehicles, and that the Air Force has boosted patrols along the tense border, Israel’s NRG News reported Sunday.
Air force officials at Israel’s Ramat David airbase said they had increased overflights of the area by “dozens of percent,” in recent weeks due to the rising carnage just over the fence, potentially threatening Israel.
“A great responsibility rests on our shoulders which requires our alertness, readiness and presence on a larger scale in the North than in the past,” base commander Col. Nir said in an interview.
“We’re up there a lot more, with the intention of maintaining the sovereignty of the State Israel’s northern border, and ensuring that what is happening beyond it, does not seep over into our territory,” he told the Air Force magazine.
Any fighting between Syrian forces or rebels, among them ISIS militias, that “spills over” into Israeli-held territory will “cost them dearly,” Northern Command officials said late last week.
“Today, when we scramble for a combat mission, we’re a lot more cautious,” according to deputy base squadron chief, Maj. Tomer. “That means flying higher, more hidden, faster, and more discreetly.”
Much of the fighting is centered on controlling the once-UN-managed Quneitra Crossing point, where, in the past, Syria and Israel cautiously allowed cross-border humanitarian shipments of fruit and produce grown on the Israeli side of the border.
On Sept. 1st., the Israeli army declared a swath of the country’s border with Syria on the Golan Heights a closed military area, due to fighting between Syrian government forces and Islamist groups, just across the security fence of the Quneitra crossing point, NRG reported at the time.
Fierce clashes between the two Muslim groups, which have boiled up in recent days, sent explosions echoing into Israeli territory, and a mortar shell slamming down on the Israeli side of the facility. The mortar round prompted the military closure as a safety measure, the IDF said.
Just a day earlier, the Air Force had “successfully intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that breached Israel airspace above the border with Syria near Quneitra.”
“The vehicle was targeted and destroyed by a ‘Patriot’ surface to air missile,” according to the army.
Days earlier, an IDF officer and an Israeli civilian were wounded in separate gunfire and mortar shelling incidents. The army fired back over the former attack, and reported hitting a Syrian military post, believed the source of the “errant” fire.
However, the army official said in recent days that – besides the UAV infiltration – “until now, no Syrian aircraft crossed the line, and no tanks crossed the border.” He noted, however that “if we understand the tank would be dangerous to Israel, we will confront it, but we do not violate the armistice agreement and we have no interest in bringing upon ourselves a war we’re not a party to.”