Israel keeps watch as Syrian rebels control frontier areas
JERUSALEM — Syrian rebels control almost all of the villages near the frontier with the Israel-held Golan Heights, the Israeli defense minister said on Wednesday, bringing the conflict dangerously close to the Jewish state and raising the possibility of an armed clash with the region's strongest power.
During a tour of the Golan Heights, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave a scathing assessment of Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and said Israel will remain “vigilant and alert.”
“Almost all of the villages, from the foot of this ridge to the very top, are already in the hands of the Syrian rebels,” said Barak, who was accompanied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The Syrian army is displaying ever-diminishing efficiency.”
The civil war in Syria has renewed tensions over the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in 1967. Despite hostility between the two countries, Syria has been careful to keep the border quiet since the 1973 Mideast war.
But in recent days, Israeli troops have fired into Syria twice after apparently stray mortar shells flew into Israel-held territory. On Wednesday, an Associated Press journalist said an Israeli helicopter was patrolling the border area, and gunfire could be heard. The source of the gunfire was not immediately clear.
While it is widely believed that Assad does not want to pick a fight with Israel, there are fears the embattled Syrian leader may try to draw Israel into the fighting in a bout of desperation.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man charged with playing doctor for free Nemacolin stay
- Ehrhoff finding his way with Penguins
- Cancer didn’t stop mother from living for her son
- Penguins notebook: Bennett status remains fluid
- Steelers cornerback Taylor ready to swap earpiece for helmet
- Steelers’ lookahead: New Orleans Saints
- U.S. Steel Tower tenants stand to benefit from company’s relocation
- No. 15 San Diego State hammers Pitt, 74-57
- DUI checkpoints take on dangerous drivers
- Suspect in Route 28 death has long history of ignoring vehicle registration, license laws, records show
- Steelers notebook: Defense tasked with stopping Graham