Heavy clashes near Syrian border with Israel

Heavy clashes near Syrian border with Israel

Regime forces shell villages along the Golan Heights; opposition claims Assad is on the verge of losing the area

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Syrian citizens stand on the rubble of houses that were destroyed by government airstrikes in Aleppo, Syria, earlier this month (photo credit: AP/Aleppo Media Center)
Syrian citizens stand on the rubble of houses that were destroyed by government airstrikes in Aleppo, Syria, earlier this month (photo credit: AP/Aleppo Media Center)

Syrian government and opposition forces clashed near the border with Israel throughout Wednesday, with casualties reported on both sides by local activists.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based organization, reported early Wednesday afternoon that regime forces had bombarded the town of Jubata Al-Khashab, just across the armistice line from the Israeli Druze towns of Mas’ade and Buq’ata, with no casualties. Five miles southwest of there, clashes flared between regime and opposition forces in the villages of Khan Arnabeh and Ofanya, with the Observatory reporting “losses on both sides.”

The municipality of Khan Arnabeh reported regime shelling on the village Wednesday morning, causing the destruction of at least one home. Two adults and three children were reportedly killed.

By evening, the Revolutionary Council of Quneitra and the Golan, a local coordination body, declared that the opposition had struck Syrian mortar units on the southern slopes of Mount Hermon in a bid to “break the siege of the Quneitra province.”

The Council reported destroying a regime tank at the entrance to Khan Arnabeh and claimed that regime soldiers in the province were defecting en masse.

Heavy clashes were also reported in the village of Beit Jan, with the Council claiming that 16 regime tanks were on their way to the area as reinforcement. The Council added that the regime was on the verge of losing its grip on the last villages it still holds in the province of Quneitra.

A spokesman for the Israeli army would not comment on the specifics of the clashes in Syria, but told The Times of Israel that “The IDF is closely monitoring developments in Syria and prepared for any eventuality.”

On Wednesday morning IDF medics treated four wounded Syrians, evacuating two of the men to Haifa’s Rambam hospital with severe shrapnel wounds.

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