TEL AVIV – A group claiming to operate out of Syria took credit today for what it said was an attack against Israeli troops operating near the Syria-Israel border, according to a source in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Ba’ath party.
The claim preceded statements from Assad today warning Syria would not be deterred from helping Lebanon.
The group, calling itself the Front for the Liberation of the Golan, faxed a letter to Ba’ath party officials stating it planted a roadside bomb that targeted an Israeli army jeep today, killing one Israeli soldier.
A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces said no soldiers were killed or injured today near the Israel-Syrian border.
A mine did reportedly explode on the Syrian side of the border, but no injuries were reported among Israeli troops. It wasn’t clear what caused the explosion. Military officials have warned the past few weeks Hezbollah may fire into Syria in attempts to draw Damascus into a confrontation with Israel.
Israel is operating in select areas close to the Syrian border at positions near Mount Hermon and the Golan Heights. Israeli officials say the Syrian army has been placed on high alert along the border with Israel and Lebanon, but it hasn’t staged any attacks.
Israel captured the Golan Heights, a strategic mountainous territory, after Syria used the terrain to attack the Jewish state in 1967 and again in 1973. It borders Israel, Syria and Lebanon.
Israeli security officials said they had no information about the Front for the Liberation of the Golan.
The Ba’ath party official told WND the Front formed last month and will attempt attacks against Israelis. The official said the group claims to consist of “hundreds” of Syrian volunteers, many from the Syrian border with Turkey.
The claim by the Front was followed by statements today from Assad in which he instructed the Syrian army to “be prepared for all scenarios because we believe that falling for the sake of heaven (martyrdom) is the only way to freedom and victory.
“Syria, which stood by its brother (Lebanon) and sacrificed martyrs to defend Lebanon’s freedom as we did for Syria’s sovereignty, remains as always adamant in standing by our Arab people who’s fighting in Lebanon and Palestine, and by the bold national resistance who struck the enemy. All threats voiced by powers in the world who support t he enemy won’t deter us from continuing to support our brothers.”
Syria, along with Iran, is a primary sponsor of Hezbollah. Israel says Syria has been allowing weaponry, including thousands of rockets, to be transported from its borders to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The leaders of Palestinian terror groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, operate openly from Damascus.
Syria is also accused by the U.S. of allowing insurgents to cross through its borders to attack American troops in Iraq. There have been reports of Syria providing weapons and intelligence information to the insurgents.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz have stated dozens of times since the Jewish state started its military campaign against Hezbollah July 12 that Israel has no intention of acting against Syria.