Israeli army says ready to help Druze under attack in Syria

Israeli army says ready to help Druze under attack in Syria

Israel's military said Friday that it was ready to protect a frontier village in Syria held by the Syrian government, where Damascus said militant rebels exploded a vehicle killing at least nine people.

The Syrian state news agency Sana said the auto bombing was carried out by Jabhat Al Nusra, using the former name of Al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, which it changed to Jabhat Fatah Al Sham after claiming to have severed ties with the terrorist group. However, the IDF has responded with pinpoint strikes to occasional cross-border fire - both errant and intentional - in the Golan Heights and has reportedly bombed a number of Hezbollah-bound arms convoys and other targets in Syria tied to the Iran-backed, Lebanon-based Shia terror group in recent years.

"In the aftermath of the terrorist attack, terrorist groups carried out a heavy attack on Hader, and army units and the Popular Defence units (pro-government militants) clashed with the attackers", it added.

Almost 140,000 members of the Druze minority, which follows a secretive offshoot of Shiite Islam, live in Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan.

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Hader, a town just inside Syrian territory, is reportedly being targeted by the Nusra Front, formally known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

It said the death toll was likely to rise as most of the wounded sustained serious injuries and had to be pulled out of the debris with difficulty in the face of gunfire and shelling by rebel fighters.

After the incident, dozens of Israeli Druze protested at the Syrian border against the escalating violence in Hader.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it, a move never recognised by the global community.

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The Druze in Israel are part of the country's Arab minority.

The Israel Police said that due to the battles near Syrian border, as a part of the general police preparation at the Golan Heights, forces were deployed and stationed at major intersections in the north. They are full citizens of Israel and generally serve in the army.

Speaking on a visit to London, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "We are also guarding our borders".

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