Syrian rebels capture intel base near Israel border

Security compound, latest instance of fighting near armistice line, falls after five-day seige

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Free Syrian Army fighters patrol in Syria, February 2013. (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)
Free Syrian Army fighters patrol in Syria, February 2013. (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

Syrian rebel forces captured a military intelligence facility close to the border with the Golan Heights on Sunday, in the latest instance of Syrian fighting reaching uncomfortably close to Israel’s border.

The compound in the town of Shajara was captured after a five-day siege and intense fighting, Reuters reported. It is only eight kilometers (five miles) from the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria.

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Israel has become increasingly worried over Syrian fighting near the border leaking into Israel. Several mortars have landed in the Golan and bullets have whizzed by soldiers and peacekeepers patrolling the previously quiet armistice line.

Last week 21 soldiers from the UN peacekeeping force were kidnapped by Syrian militants near the border, and released to Jordan after three days in captivity.

Earlier in the month opposition fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda were filmed near the border, where they watched and studied IDF patrols from only meters away on the other side of the fence.

The UN’s peacekeeping force is reportedly cutting down on patrols in the area, which they have maintained since 1974 following the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and Syria.

Sources in the IDF believe the gunmen affiliated with al-Qaeda and other terror groups are currently preoccupied with fighting President Bashar Assad’s regime, and that if they plan on turning their focus on Israel they won’t do so before they have more control in Syria, Channel 10 reported.

The civil war in Syria has been raging for two years. UN estimates say that more than 70,000 people have so far been killed in the fighting, and over 1 million people have been displaced.

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