Syrian rebels are said to be in control of almost the entire Syrian border with Israel, a monitoring group and the Al-Arabiya news network reported on Saturday.
According to the report, which was quoted by Israel’s Channel 10, Islamist rebel forces took control of two additional villages near Quneitra on Friday. The Syrian army is said to be hanging on to only one village in the war-torn area.
Quneitra, the single border crossing between Israel and Syria, was seized several weeks ago by al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nursa Front rebels as they fight for control of southern Syria.
The report said that the towns of Rawadi and Hamidiyah were relinquished to rebel forces after intense fighting with the Syrian army who is loyal to President Bashar Assad.
“The regime is on the retreat before the advancing rebels,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “The regime has now lost control of about 80 percent of towns and villages in Quneitra province.”
As infighting rages in Syria, the civil war has spilled over into Israel over the last several weeks. On Friday, a mortar shell exploded on Israel’s side of the Golan Heights. The IDF believes that the mortar as a stray from the fighting across the border.
Last week, several mortars exploded in open areas in the Golan Heights. The IDF responded by firing a Tamuz missile at the origin of the rocket fire, which the army confirmed was a successful strike.
Israel Radio reported that UN peacekeepers were evacuating from Camp Faouar, their main headquarters in Syria, to Israel so that it would not fall into the hands of Syrian rebels. The IDF has opened a special border crossing for the UN troops and a small Fijian force is expected to remain behind at the base for a few days.
The IDF has closed off Israel’s northern border with Syria and has declared the area a closed military zone.