(DAMASCUS, Syria) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appears to be taking steps to expand the 20-month-long conflict in his country to include a once-bitter enemy, Israel.
Last weekend, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fired shots into Syria for the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War in retaliation for a mortar round that landed in the Golan Heights.
Israel responded again on Monday when its tank commanders targeted mobile Syrian artillery units crossing over into the disputed territory.
With international condemnation of his government growing and the rebel movement unrelenting, al-Assad might be trying to draw Israel into the conflict that has left an estimated 35,000 dead in order to rally Arab neighbors to his side.
Israel would prefer not to get involved in new hostilities with Syria, but if any Israelis are wounded or killed by errant Syrian shelling, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have no other recourse but to react militarily in spite of how the Arab world might respond.
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