BEIRUT, 6 JUNE: Syrian rebels today captured a crossing point along a ceasefire line in the contested Golan Heights patrolled by UN troops, an Austrian defence ministry official said.
The BBC, meanwhile, reports that the Syrian army has retaken control of the UN-monitored crossing in the Golan Heights.
The development is likely to deepen Israel’s concerns that the volatile area in the north along the Israel-Syria frontier could fall into the hands of radical Islamic factions fighting along with other insurgent groups in Syria against President Bashar Assad’s forces. The crossing’s seizure comes a day after the Syrian military, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militants, captured the strategic town of Qusair near the border with Lebanon in a significant blow to the Opposition fighters trying to topple Assad’s regime. The crossing in the Quneitra area, which is patrolled by Austrian UN peacekeepers, was overrun and seized by the rebels early today, said Col Michael Bauer of the Austrian defence ministry. Mr Bauer said in Vienna that the Austrian peacekeepers pulled back from the crossing earlier and were unharmed. The ministry’s crisis committee was meeting to evaluate the situation, he said. The Austrian contingent is part of a UN peacekeeping force that patrols the Golan, captured by Israel in the 1967 war. The Quneitra is the only crossing along the ceasefire line and primarily serves the UN peace keepers and Druse villagers moving between the Israeli-and Syrian-controlled Golan. agenices