BEIRUT - Syrian rebels have overrun several towns near the Golan Heights in the past 24 hours, rebels and a monitoring
group said on Thursday, fueling tensions in the sensitive military
"We have been attacking government positions as the army has been
shelling civilians, and plan to take more towns," said Abu Essam Taseel, from
the media office of the "Martyrs of Yarmouk", a rebel brigade operating in the
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group
monitoring the conflict in Syria, said rebels had taken several towns near the
Golan plateau, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and
It said that on Wednesday night rebels had captured Khan
Arnabeh, which sits on the Israeli-Syrian disengagement line and straddles a
main road leading into Israeli-held territory.
Rebels also took Mashati
al-Khadar and Seritan Lahawan, two villages near the ceasefire line, it
UN peacekeepers monitoring the line halted patrols this month
after rebels held 21 Filipino observers for three days.
struggle between rebels and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has
posed increasing difficulties for the 1,000-strong UN Disengagement Observer
There is growing concern in Israel that Islamist rebels
may be emboldened to end the quiet maintained by Assad and his father before him
on the Golan front since 1974.
Rebel sources say the Syrian army
intensified shelling of villages in the area of Saham al-Golan at dawn on
They said that rebels in the Quneitra region, next to the
Golan, were stepping up attacks on roadblocks to gain more territory but added
that the strategic town of Quneitra - which was largely destroyed and abandoned
during Israeli-Syrian clashes in 1974 - was still in Syrian government hands.