Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime celebrate..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As clashes between Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and opposition fighters raged on near the Quneitra crossing, which marks the border between Syria and Israel, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revealed that rebel groups now control the vast majority of the border with Israel.
Rami Abdul Rahman, who heads the organization, said Assad's regime has lost control of nearly 80 percent of the villages and towns near the crossing, as rebels have managed to seize most of the area.
While the Syrian army was vying to gain back control, Abdul Rahman said the province could be the second to fall into the hands of rebels, after Islamic State overran the northern Raqqa province.
Meanwhile, Syrian opposition groups said earlier that Qatar had paid $25 million in ransom for the release of 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers, who were held captive by Al Nusra Front militants in the Golan Heights.
The Qatari government announced on Saturday it was behind efforts to release 45 Fijian UN observers, who were abducted by Al Nusra Front militants in the Golan Heights last month.
In an official statement, Doha said it mediated negotiations with the rebel group, at the request of the Fiji government.
A mortar fired from Syria crossed the border with Israel and landed in the Golan Heights on Friday night in the latest apparent incident of fallout from the Syrian civil war.
Alert sirens were sounded in the area around 10 p.m. Friday warning of the incoming projectile. No injuries or damage were reported.
The IDF had not responded to the incident as of late Friday, a military spokeswoman said.
The Syrian army said earlier on Friday that terrorists were killed and wounded in the volatile Quneitra border crossing near the Golan Heights, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency.
The Syrian military said it struck scores of terrorists hiding out throughout the country, destroying vehicles, weapons and equipment, and "inflicting heavy losses upon them [both] in personnel and equipment."