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Israel retaliates with airstrikes, killing 4 in Syria

| Monday, June 23, 2014, 5:49 p.m.

The Syrian government said on Monday that a series of Israeli airstrikes targeting its troops in retaliation for a deadly cross-border attack killed four people and wounded nine, in its first comment on the overnight incident.

It said the attack was a “flagrant violation” of Syrian sovereignty, but in a departure from previous incidents when Israeli warplanes struck targets in Syria, the government did not vow retaliation.

Israel's prime minister warned the warring parties in Syria against any attempt to heat up tensions along the disputed frontier, hours after the Israeli air force carried out a string of airstrikes in Syria in response to the attack, which killed an Israeli teenager riding in a civilian vehicle.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would respond with even tougher force if there are further attacks.

“Last night, we operated with great force against Syrian targets that acted against us, and if needed we will use additional force,” he told members of his Likud Party. “We will continue to forcefully hurt anyone who attacks us or tries to attack us.”

The Israeli military said the air raids struck nine targets in Syria.

A statement issued by Syria's Foreign Ministry said five Israeli warplanes carried out the raids, which were accompanied by mortar rounds and tank shells.

It said four people were killed and nine wounded, adding that the attacks caused extensive damage to Syrian army positions and equipment.

The director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdurrahman, said the Israeli strikes destroyed two tanks, two artillery batteries and the headquarters of Syria's 90th brigade.

The Israeli military said “direct hits were confirmed” on the targets, which were near the site of violence on Sunday in the Golan Heights and included a regional military command center.

Israel has kept a close eye on the Syrian uprising since it began in March 2011, although it has avoided backing either side.

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