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Israel says closely monitoring Syria battlefronts

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Sunday that Israel is closely monitoring the battlefronts in Syria after press reports that rebels had seized Scud missiles from regime forces.

But Yaalon downplayed any threat to Israel from the Scuds -- long-range surface-to-surface missiles which Iraq's executed dictator Saddam Hussein used against the Jewish state in the 1991 Gulf War.

"I don't think that they have the capacity to fire missiles at our territory," Yaalon told military radio, in reaction to reports Syrian rebels had seized Scuds in northeast Syria.

Rebels have made significant advances in northern Syria where they control large swathes of territory, having captured army bases and airports.

Speaking a day after Syrian shells hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Yaalon reiterated that his country does not wish to be involved in Syria's civil war.

"We are monitoring the situation closely. As long as it does not threaten us, we will not intervene. At this stage we don't see any threat," he said.

On Saturday, mortar rounds believed to be have been fired from Syria hit the southern part of the Golan, falling in an open area without causing injuries or damage, the army reported.

Yaalon said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would be "held responsible for everything that happens along the border."

There have been several instances of gunfire or mortar shells hitting the Israeli side of the Golan over the past year.

Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981, in a move never recognised by the international community. It is currently upgrading a security fence along the armistice line.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130303/israel-says-closely-monitoring-syria-battlefronts