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Israel fires on Syria targets from occupied Golan

Smoke rises from a Syrian army position after an Israeli tank fires across the demarcation line from the occupied Golan Heights
— Majdal Shams (AFP)

Israeli tanks fired on Syrian targets from the occupied Golan Heights Thursday, an AFP photographer and the military said.

The strikes targeted "two temporary structures" used by the Syrian army in violation of the 1974 disengagement agreement between the two countries, the military said in a statement.

The AFP photographer witnessed an Israeli tank firing at least two shells.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed the territory in a move not recognised by the United Nations.

Smoke billowed from a Syrian position near the demarcation line after the Israeli bombardment, visible from the Druze village of Majdal Shams on the Israeli-occupied side.

An AFP journalist saw Israeli tanks and bulldozers enter the buffer zone in a move permitted under the accord, which ended the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

The tank fire hit surveillance positions used by Syrian troops and allied militia, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. No casualties were reported.

It followed an Israeli drone strike that killed two members of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad earlier Thursday, according to the Britain-based war monitor, which has a network of sources inside Syria.

The Israeli military told AFP it would not comment on the reported assassination, which happened near the demarcation line, according to the Observatory.

- Repeated Israeli strikes -

Israeli troops follow developments from the Druze village of Majdal Shams on the Israeli-occupied side of the demarcation line

During more than a decade of war in Syria, neighbouring Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its territory, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters as well as Syrian army positions.

Two soldiers were killed in Israeli strikes on Syria's Mediterranean coast earlier this month, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

In a rare exchange across the demarcation line, Israel hit Syrian targets with drone fire in April after it said six rockets were launched from the country.

Some of the Syrian fire hit the occupied Golan, the army said at the time, prompting warning sirens to sound in several areas.

Thursday's strikes come ahead of the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war, in which Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on the Jewish fast of Yom Kippur to try to win back their lost territories.

In 1974, a United Nations force was dispatched to a buffer zone on the Golan Heights and tasked with monitoring a ceasefire.

At least 25,000 Israeli settlers live in the territory, joining at least 23,000 Druze who remained on the land after Israel captured it.

The majority of the Golan's Druze -- followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam -- still consider themselves Syrian. Most do not hold Israeli citizenship.