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 Syrian army 'retakes Golan crossing'

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PostSubject: Syrian army 'retakes Golan crossing'   Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:59 am

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The Syrian army has taken control of a UN-monitored crossing in the Golan Heights that had been overrun by rebel forces, Israeli military sources say.

Tanks and armoured vehicles were used in the fighting at Quneitra, near Israeli-held territory.

Austria has said it will withdraw its peacekeepers from the Golan Heights because of the fighting.

It comes a day after Syrian troops backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militants retook the key town of Qusair.

Quneitra is close to the dis-engagement line with Israel on the Golan Heights and is a crossing point for local - mainly Druze - inhabitants, many of whose families straddle the de-facto border.

There has been sporadic fighting in the Golan over recent months with many Syrian army units having been pulled out to battle the rebels elsewhere.

On occasion, Israeli positions have come under fire and the Israeli army has fired back. Israel, while anxious not to get involved, remains deeply concerned about what is going on in and around Quneitra.

It fears a rebel success could open up its Golan border to attack from jihadist elements. This is just one more front where the violence in Syria threatens to spill over - drawing in Syria's neighbours.

The involvement of Hezbollah and the upsurge of fighting near the ceasefire line with Israel in the Golan have both raised fears that the conflict could spread across Syria's borders.

Rebels seized the crossing near the town of Quneitra earlier on Thursday, with explosions and heavy shelling rocking the area.

But an Israeli military source said Syrian government forces retook the symbolically significant position hours later, and that it was now relatively quiet in the area.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22795655
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