March 5, 2014 / 6:27 AM / 5 years ago

Israel says shot 2 Hezbollah fighters on Syrian Golan

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli troops shot two Hezbollah fighters who tried to plant a bomb near the fence between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syrian-held territory on Wednesday, the army said.

An army spokeswoman said Israeli intelligence had identified the men as members of Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia which is helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fight a civil war. She had no immediate word on their condition.

Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shi’ite group whose politicians sit in the Beirut government, fought Israel to a standstill in a 2006 Lebanon war. Both sides have built up strength since but have largely avoided direct confrontation.

Last week, however, Hezbollah accused Israel of bombing one of its bases near the Lebanon-Syria border and threatened to retaliate.

Israel did not confirm carrying out the air strike, in keeping with its official silence on at least three such attacks in the last year targeting suspected Hezbollah-bound weapons convoys from Syria. It said it would hold Beirut responsible for any Hezbollah reprisals from Lebanese turf.

Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. The strategic plateau has seen occasional spillover violence from the Syrian civil war, and Israel has accused Hezbollah of setting up positions on the other side of the boundary fence.

Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Crispian Balmer

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