Al-Qaeda on Israel's borderal-Qaeda-led Syrian rebels have seized villages in the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria north of the Golan Heights.
At least two hundred rebel soldiers had taken over Beerajam and Bariqa, two isolated villages nestled in the buffer zone established between the two countries following the Yom Kippur war in 1973.
"The rebels are employing a clear tactic of drawing the regime forces to fight in these demilitarised areas because of the limitations on the Syrian armed forces," a military intelligence source from Israel's northern command said yesterday. "Rebels have seized control of the area north of Quneitra and the area to its south. If they are brave they will try to make a swift move to cut off Quenetra city and cut off the road to Damascus. We cannot rule that out as a next step."
The armistice agreed in 1974 prohibits the Syrian government from engaging in military activity within a buffer zone that runs along the length of the Israeli border, with a width just under six miles.
Israel has not formally taken sides in the Syrian conflict and in some quarters there are fears that a more hostile Islamist government may succeed the Assad regime.
The military officials said the rebels in control of Quneitra are members of a radical Salafist faction calling itself "Eagles of the Golan".
The group, made up largely of foreign fighters, including al-Qaeda militants from Iraq, boasts that that once it has ousted the Assad regime, it will focus its attention on Israel.
"We are used to a Cold War situation between Israel and Syria but what we are seeing along the border now is a situation similar to that of Lebanon or Sinai, where a weak sovereign state is failing to exert its control over an area that different rebel groups can use to attack Israel," a source said.The US, Britain and France are all at various stages on the road to recognizing the rebels - apparently unconcerned by whom and what they represent.
What could go wrong?
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