Smoke rises following an explosion on the Syrian side near the Quneitra border crossing between the Golan Heights and Syria, August 29, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hezbollah, Syrian army forces and Iranian officers have drawn close to the border with Israel in the Golan Heights in their fight against Syrian rebels, AFP reported on Wednesday, citing state media reports and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
"Regime troops and their Hezbollah-led allies are advancing in the area linking Daraa, Quneitra and Damascus provinces," the Observatory stated.
"The operation launched by the Syrian army is being fought in cooperation with... Hezbollah and Iran," a Syrian army officer told state television, in what AFP reported was the first time that Syrian television had acknowledged such cooperation.
The Syrian forces were attempting to gain control of the area from rebels such as the Nusra Front, al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, who have made advances in southern Syrian in recent months.
Six Hezbollah operatives and six Iranians, including a general were killed last month in an air strike in the Golan Heights in Syria that was widely attributed to Israel.
Hezbollah has accused Israel of forming ties with rebels in the border region, citing Israeli hospitals treating wounded Syrian rebels as proof.
In the aftermath of the alleged Israeli airstrike on the Hezbollah convoy in January, a Lebanese MP said that the group, along with the Iran and Syria were "working on establishing a resistant society in the Golan Heights."
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According to Lebanon's Daily Star
, the MP Walid Sukkarieh went on to say that Israel has been trying to establish strategic links with rebel factions fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, specifying in a separate newspaper interview that the Nusra Front is a major beneficiary of these efforts.
Throughout the war, which has raged for nearly four years, Israel has often treated Syrian civilians injured in the fighting. Israel's Health Ministry claims that around 1,000 Syrians - exclusively civilians - have been admitted into nearby hospitals, but other actors such as the UN have reported evidence of Israeli figures meeting with figures east of the Syrian-Israeli border who appeared to be combatants.
Control of the territory near the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights has frequently changed hands during the Syrian civil war.
Stray shells from the fighting between Assad's forces and the rebels have occasionally fallen in Israeli territory during the fighting. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has vowed that Israel will respond to any cross-border shelling, whether it be intentional or not.
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