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Tensions are once again flaring up in the Golan Heights area, on the contact line between Syrian and Israeli forces.
Late on August 3, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) struck several targets in the Syrian province of Quneitra. According to the IDF, the strikes hit observation posts, intelligence collection systems, anti-aircraft artillery and command and control systems of the Syrian Armed Forces. The Syrian state media reported that Syrian forces intercepted several missiles, while the impact of the rest of them caused only material damage.
A day earlier, on August 2, the IDF claimed that it had neutralized 4 gunmen that were trying to plant an IED on the security fence on the contact line between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the government-controlled part of Syria.
Soldiers from the Maglan special forces unit and unspecified aircraft opened fire at the four suspects, some of whom were armed, killing them all, IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said. The spokesman said the military did not yet know which military or group the men belonged to, but Israeli media as always blamed Iran and Hezbollah.
Clashes also resumed with a new energy between the Syrian Army and Turkish-backed militant groups, first of all Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda), in southern Idlib and northern Lattakia. According to pro-government sources, the escalation began with a series of intense strikes on positions of the army in southern Idlib.
In response to the attack, the Syrian Army and the Russian Aerospace Forces struck a number of positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham along the contact line. Sources loyal to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants claimed that the group shot down a Russian Orlan-10 reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle in northwestern Hama and killed up to 10 Syrian soldiers by rocket and mortar strikes.
Early on August 4, units of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham also stormed positions of the Syrian Army near Ard al-Wat and Ayn al-Qantarah, but the attack was repelled.
The clashes followed a series of incidents, including the canceled joint Turkish-Russian patrol along the M4 highway in southern Idlib. These developments are a logical result of the current situation in Greater Idlib, where the so-called ‘opposition-held area’ is in fact controlled by various terrorist groups supported by Turkey.