Druze men look at smoke rising on the Israeli-controlled side of the line dividing the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights from Syria following fighting near the Quneitra border crossing. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Al Qaeda's Syria wing Nusra Front and other Islamist fighters
have taken control of a border crossing on the line dividing
Syria from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a group
monitoring the Syrian conflict says.
The fighters, who have vowed to "liberate" the area, captured
the Quneitra post on the Syrian side from forces loyal to
President Bashar al-Assad after fierce clashes, the Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights said. The organisation gathers
information from all sides in the Syrian war.
The crossing is monitored by the United Nations, which
oversees traffic between the two enemy countries but the
distance between the two warring adversaries' posts is some
During the fighting, two Israelis were wounded by stray
bullets, a soldier and a civilian, both in the Golan Heights.
Israel responded with artillery fire at two Syrian army
positions, the Israeli military said. It was the latest
spillover of violence from the three-year conflict.
Stephane Dujarric, a U.N. spokesman, said the organisation's
peacekeepers could not confirm whether the rebels had seized
the crossing, "as fighting is ongoing" at one of its gates.
Dujarric reported "heavy fighting between the Syrian armed
forces and armed members of the opposition" in the Quneitra
area adding that several mortars struck near U.N. positions
near the peacekeepers' base, but that they took shelter
apparently avoiding casualties.
He said the commander of peacekeepers there known as the
United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was in
touch with Syria and the Israeli military urging both to
"exercise restraint and prevent an escalation of the
Shelling from the Syrian civil war has occasionally reached
into the Israeli-controlled Golan, occasionally causing
injuries and damage to soldiers and civilians. Israel has
said the firing has sometimes been deliberately aimed at its
Israel captured the western part of the strategic plateau
from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed it, a move that is not
While the Syrian army has a presence on the Golan, some areas
are controlled by rebels fighting to topple Assad, including
al Qaeda-inspired militants hostile to the Jewish state.
Rebels last year briefly took the Quneitra border crossing
with Israel and now control many villages in the area.
In early July, another al Qaeda off-shoot, Islamic State,
which controls roughly a third of Syria and is the strongest
insurgent group in the war against Assad, swept into Iraq,
taking control of swathes of territory.