Israel strikes Syria armor, heightening spillover fears

Posted: November 12, 2012 at 6:53 a.m.
Updated: November 12, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.

— An Israeli tank struck a Syrian army vehicle Monday after a mortar shell landed on Israeli-held territory, the military said, in the first direct confrontation between the countries since the Syrian uprising broke out, sharpening fears that Israel could be drawn into the civil war next door.

Israel has steadfastly tried to avoid getting sucked into the Syrian conflict, but it has grown increasingly worried after a series of mortar shells have struck territory in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights in recent days.

On Sunday, Israel fired a “warning shot” into Syria in response to the shelling.

The conflict has already spilled over into several of Syria’s other neighbors — whether in direct violence or in the flood of refugees fleeing Syria’s bloodshed. On Monday, a Syrian fighter jet bombed a rebel-held area hugging the border with Turkey three times, killing more than a dozen people and bringing a protest from the Turkish government.

Israeli military officials say they believe the mortar fire landing in the Golan is not an overt attempt to hit the Jewish state and is likely accidental as Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army battle rebel forces trying to oust him.

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