Israeli troops confirmed "direct hits" on Syrian targets yesterday (Monday) after a second exchange of gunfire across the border, as fears of Syria's civil war spiralling into a regional conflict intensified.
The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) responded to a shell landing in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights for the second consecutive day.
"A mortar shell hit an open area in the vicinity of an IDF post in the central Golan Heights, as part of the internal conflict inside Syria, causing no damage or injuries," a statement said.
"In response, IDF soldiers fired tank shells towards the source of the fire, confirming direct hits."
Military sources suggested that the target struck was a mobile multiple rocket launcher, of a sort used commonly by both sides in the war in Libya. Such weapons have been observed only once on the rebel side in Syria, in the failed attack earlier this month on the airbase at Taftanaz, south-west of Aleppo.
The IDF statement did not make clear whether it belonged to regime or rebel forces and an IDF spokesman said it was irrelevant as Israel would hit back if fired upon no matter what the source.
"The Israeli defence establishment is concerned with doing the job of protecting our citizens in the north, as we try to protect our citizens in the south," the spokesman said.
"If we are fired upon, we will respond in kind. As far as we're concerned, it doesn't matter who is firing at us, it just matters that they are firing."
Ehud Barak, the defence minister, called a "situation analysis" meeting with the heads of the IDF and Israeli intelligence to discuss the crisis. Israel has been careful to portray itself as neutral in the conflict in Syria. It fears being dragged in should Syria and its backer Iran encourage Hizbollah, which they both support, to begin shelling Israel from the north.
Rebels on the other hand are convinced that Israel is backing President Bashar al-Assad, who despite years of anti-Israel rhetoric, and support for Hamas and Hizbollah, at least preserved the peace on the border with the Golan Heights.
Golan was seized from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and has been held by Israel ever since.
Yesterday, the Syrian air force bombed the border town of Ras al-Ayn, which was seized by rebel forces last week. Witnesses said some of its bombs landed within yards of the Turkish frontier fence.
A Turkish official said more than a dozen people in the town were killed. About 70 wounded people were taken into Turkey for treatment, of whom a further eight died.
The fighting in Ras al-Ayn brings more complexity to the conflict, as well as a further dangers of Syria's civil war spilling beyond its border. It is in a Kurdish area of Syria. In many towns there, neither the regime nor the rebels are in control, but the towns are run by members of a political group allied to the PKK, the terrorist organisation that has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for decades.
Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, lodged a formal protest about the air raid with Nato and the United Nations Security Council. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary-general, said the alliance would "do what it takes to protect and defend Turkey, our ally". He said plans were in place to do so and to deter attacks on Turkey.