Members of the Syrian terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusra claimed Friday that they had killed over 200 security personnel in destroying a Syrian military base near the Golan Heights. The number of casualties was disputed by the Associated Press, which initially wrote that 8 people had died.
A high-ranking official in President Bashar Assad’s military apparatus was also killed in the attack, according to sources within the Syrian opposition who were cited by Israel Radio.
The base is located in the village of Sa’sa’, part of the Quneitra Governate, some 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the Israeli border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had warned recently that the Syrian military was distancing itself from the border, and that global jihad forces were taking its place. Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday, in an interview at the Davos World Economic Forum meeting, also warned about the rise of jihadist forces in Syria.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius suggested on Thursday that Assad’s fall may not be imminent, since according to him, progress toward ending the conflict had ground to a halt.
Also on Thursday, reports surfaced that the embattled Syrian leader’s mother, Anisa Makhlouf, had fled the country and was residing in the United Arab Emirates.
Despite indications that an end to the civil war is still far off, the Syrian government on Friday called for the return of all refugees and dissidents who had sought shelter from the fighting beyond the country’s borders.
The state-run SANA news agency reported that the government would help all those citizens who wish to return to Syria, whether they left “legally or illegally.”