Middle East

Israel strike 'kills militants' on Golan Heights frontier

Israeli troops near Majdal Shams after an air strike reportedly killed militants in the Golan Heights (26 April 2015) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Israel's prime minister said the air strike had "prevented a terror attack" on its forces

An Israeli air strike has killed four militants armed with a bomb along the Israeli-Syrian frontier in the Golan Heights, the Israeli military has said.

A spokesperson said "terrorists" had been planning an imminent attack on Israeli troops, and that the Israeli air force had "neutralised" the threat.

Military sources said the militants were spotted placing explosives on a fence near Majdal Shams on Sunday.

The militants were not identified, and it is not clear if they were Syrians.

In January, an Iranian Republican Guards general and at least six fighters from the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah were killed in an Israeli air strike in the Syrian Golan Heights.

'Decisive response'

In Sunday's incident, Israeli troops observing the demilitarised zone between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syria noticed four figures reportedly trying to place an explosive device on the fence along the frontier.

An Israeli air force plane was scrambled and fired a missile at the militants, killing them all.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson said on Twitter there was no doubt that they had been "en route to [an] imminent attack on our forces".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response: "Any attempt to harm our soldiers or our citizens will be met with a decisive response like tonight's IDF operation that prevented a terror attack. I commend the vigilant IDF soldiers that acted quickly and accurately."

Hours later, missile batteries operated by Hezbollah and the Syrian army in the Qalamoun Mountains, near the border between Syria and Lebanon, were reportedly attacked.

Al-Jazeera attributed the strike to the Israeli military, but Israeli media quoted sources as denying the report.

A source in the Israeli defence establishment told Haaretz that there had been fighting in the area between Syrian government forces and jihadist militants from al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria. Israel had no interest in getting involved in the conflict between the two sides, he added.

The IDF spokesperson's office would neither confirm nor deny the report.

Arab media also reported on Friday night that Israeli jets had attacked Syrian army bases in the Qalamoun Mountains where Hezbollah stored long-range missiles.