Syrian rebels said to be gaining ground in area near Israel
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says rebels have overrun several towns near Golan Heights, attacking gov't positions.
Golan Heights Photo: Joe Yudin
Syrian rebels continued to gain ground in the area near the Israeli border on
Thursday, according to media reports that spoke of several towns near the Golan
Heights falling under their control.
Israel has long been on high – yet
quiet – alert on its border with Syria, as the IDF observes the battles taking
place. Contingencies the IDF is prepared to deal with include a permanent
withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping force stationed in the Syria- Israel buffer
zone; the peacekeepers have already ceased their patrols.
include coming face-to-face with radical jihadi elements across the
Groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra (“The Salvation Front”), a rebel
organization set up by al-Qaida in Iraq, are among the rebels gaining
“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
area that kidnapped the peacekeepers from the UN Disengagement Observer Force
earlier this month.
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.
It said that on Wednesday night
rebels captured Khan Arnabeh, which sits on the Israeli-Syrian disengagement
line and straddles a main road leading into Israeli-held
Rebels also took Mashati al-Khadar and Seritan Lahawan, two
villages near the cease-fire line, it said.
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 Kuneitra region, next to the
Golan, were stepping up attacks on roadblocks to gain more territory but added
that the strategic town of Kuneitra – which was largely destroyed and abandoned
during Israeli-Syrian clashes in 1974 – was still in Syrian government
On Wednesday, the IDF provided medical care to four wounded
Syrians who approached the border fence with Israel on Wednesday, evacuating two
of them to Israeli hospitals for further treatment.
The treatment was
provided for humanitarian reasons and was approved by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-
Gen. Benny Gantz.