Israel treats five Syrians wounded in civil war

JERUSALEM Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:09pm EST

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers treated five Syrians who had been wounded in fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels near Israel's security fence on the Golan Heights, the Israeli military said on Saturday.

The victims were taken to a hospital in Israel. The military did not say if they were combatants or civilians, or in what circumstances they crossed over to the Israeli side of the fence, although Israeli media said the wounded had approached the area near the fence and soldiers let them in.

Syrian rebels earlier overran a military police checkpoint in Khan Arnabeh, a town in the Golan Heights near the ceasefire line along the demilitarized zone with Israel, a British-based violence monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels seized weapons and a tank and the Syrian army shelled villages inside the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire area.

It was not clear if the five Syrians being treated in Israel were wounded in that incident.

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon, in a television interview, referred to it as a "specific incident" and said the decision to let the Syrians in was humanitarian. Israel will evaluate each individual case if it happens again, he said.

"Our policy has not changed. We are not intervening in the civil war in Syria, and we will not allow in a stream of refugees," Yaalon said.

The Golan, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War, has been largely untouched by the 23-month-old uprising in Syria. Israel has been on guard for violence spilling over or refugee influxes on the strategic plateau.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Oliver Holmes in Beirut; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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