Three Syrian tanks reportedly entered the demilitarized zone in the Golan Heights on Saturday, marking the first such violation in 40 years and prompting renewed concerns that Syria’s conflict expand its borders.
More accurately, the Golan Heights is recognized internationally as Syrian territory, but the area was captured and then illegally annexed by Israel in the 1967 war. Israel responded to the tanks with restraint by complaining to UN peacekeepers.
UN officials said they could not immediately confirm Israel’s allegations, but if they are true it would be a violation of the 1974 disengagement agreement between Syria and Israel.
Israel has been less antagonistic to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad throughout the internal conflict than many expected. While many in Tel Aviv want to see Assad fall, they fear rising Islamic extremist and militancy that characterizes much of the Syrian rebel opposition.
From the looks of it, this incident won’t prompt escalatory actions by either Israel of Syria, just as outright skirmishes between Syria and neighboring Turkey did not lead to a break out of war.
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