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​Israel declares part of occupied Golan Heights closed military zone

Published time: May 12, 2014 03:41
Image from twitter.com @yiftahc

Image from twitter.com @yiftahc

Israel has locked one of its border crossing with the neighboring Syria declaring part of the Golan Heights a closed military zone, fearing that intensifying battles and violence in Syria will spread to the Israeli occupied territory.

The Quneitra crossing, primarily serving UN peacekeeping forces was closed "for security reasons," an army spokeswoman announced saying that fierce fighting could affect the area, especially farmers.

The decision to close off the area was based on the IDF Northern Command’s intelligence assessment of the battles in Syria and the possibility of mortar attacks close to the crossing. The closure is expected to continue for two weeks, Walla News reports.

Israel is already coping with the consequences of fighting on the Syrian side close to its border. Earlier this year, in southwestern Syria, insurgents established the Southern Front. It is estimated that this force includes some 30,000 fighters from more than 55 rebel groups.

Besides fighting Assad's forces, the rebel factions are also clashing between themselves. Western-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday claimed that Al-Qaeda affiliated militant group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) regained control of key parts of Deir al-Zor province from other rebel forces.

Israeli soldiers stand atop tanks in the Golan Heights near Israel's border with Syria March 19, 2014 (Reuters / Ronen Zvulun)

The NGO reports that 230 militants have been killed over the past 10 days in the fight for Deir al-Zor as ISIL battled another extremist cell, the Nusra Front, Syria's official Al-Qaida affiliate. More battles are feared in the immediate future, adding to the more than 100,000 refugees from the province.

In the meantime, Tehran has hailed Syria's success in battling the Western sponsored rebel forces, a senior Iranian politician told the Guardian.

“We have won in Syria,” Alaeddin Borujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee told the newspaper. “The regime will stay. The Americans have lost it,” Borujerdi said, adding that terrorism was now the main threat in Syria.

“We are worried about the future security of Europe,” he said as many of those fighting alongside insurgents will soon return home to become a security threat for EU countries.

Alarmed British MPs have already called on the government to address the issue of UK citizens fighting in Syria and revoke their passports should they decided to return back home.

The United States however doesn’t seem to be worried that much, adamant to see the rebel forces overthrow the government of Syria. In a “pilot program” the US has been sending opposition fighters heavy arms, an American official told USA Today last week. Designated rebel groups have already received trial shipments of anti-tank missiles to “try and see how it goes,” the source said, without a risk of these arms “falling into the wrong hands.”