Soldiers patrol the Golan Heights. Israel has yet to demarcate a border with Syria and other borders remain politically disputed..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF Northern Command declared the Quneitra crossing area a closed military zone on Sunday, following intense exchanges of fire between Assad loyalist forces and rebels in the region.
In recent days, fighting between Syrian Army soldiers and rebels has intensified, and according to estimates by military sources, battles that could have decisive outcomes are raging close to the border.
The IDF sealed the area and told local farm workers to stay away, due to the danger of stray shells or gunfire reaching Israel.
The Golan Regional Council said it was being kept up to date on developments by the IDF but added that the daily routine for locals remains unaffected. Residents have, however, reported hearing several blasts from the other side of the border.
Assad regime forces have been under siege in the border area near Israel for many months, and attempts by the Syrian Army to reverse rebel victories in the region have so far been a failure.
According to assessments by IDF Northern Command, the Syrian Army controls just two locations along the border with Israel – the town of Quneitra and the Druse region of Khader – with all remaining border areas under the control of a myriad of rebel groups, which include radical jihadi organizations like the Nusra Front.
Should the rebels succeed in taking Quneitra, the regime would be left with virtually no control of the border with Israel.
In April, fierce battles raged in Tel Kudna, near the central Golan Heights, with inconclusive results.
In recent days, there has been an upsurge in the flow of wounded Syrians arriving at Israeli hospitals for treatment. The IDF transported five Syrians wounded in the civil war to Ziv Medical Center in Safed, including a 19-year-old in very serious condition and a moderately wounded 18-month-old baby.
A total of 286 Syrians have been treated at Ziv.
As part of the military’s preparations for Syrian instability, the IDF created the 210th territorial Bashan Division and deployed it to the border in recent months, in order to boost frontier security.