Syrian rebels take picture of Israeli flag shorly after taking control of Quneitra Crossing..
(photo credit: screenshot)
Syrian rebels have posted video footage of the captured Quneitra border crossing with Israel, amid reports on Thursday of heavy airstrikes by the Syrian air force on the Golan frontier post.
The rebel footage shows the rebels within 200 meters of Israeli territory.
In one video, shot during the fighting, rebels are shown firing on Syrian government forces from a UN border post in the Golan Heights.
Later footage shows the deserted UN border post after its capture.
A coalition of Syrian rebel groups including al-Qaida offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra, seized the Quneitra crossing on Wednesday, forcing Syrian government troops to withdraw after heavy clashes.
Islamist factions Ahrar a-Sham and Jama’a Bait al-Maqdis, and Free Syrian Army Brigades were also involved in the capture of the post, according to the Facebook page of one of the Free Syrian Army factions, Liwa Falujah-Houran.
Rebels on Thursday claimed to be holding the border post despite attempts by the Syrian Arab Army to dislodge them with air strikes.
If the rebels succeed in holding on to Quneitra, they will gain a significant symbolic victory over Bashar Assad’s government, which has striven for months to retain control over the area, considered the Syrian Army's weak point.
The capture of Quneitra comes after a series of gains made this year by Syrian rebels in the south of Syria, along the Jordanian and Israeli borders.
Rebels in the south have been bolstered by the involvement of Jabhat al-Nusra fighters. Their gains have included the capture of Syrian army bases near the town of Nawa in the southern Dera’a province.
Assad has previously accused Israel of assisting rebels in the south, including in the Quneitra area. On Thursday, Syrian state news agency SANA avoided mentioning the loss of Quneitra but hinted again at collusion, accusing Israel of supporting the rebels, including by treating wounded Syrians in Israeli hospitals.
Meanwhile, the Western-backed Syrian opposition denied that there had been any cooperation with Israel over the border crossing seizure.