FSA, Nusra ally in Quneitra
September 8, 2014
Rebel forces that took the Quneitra border crossing between Syria and Israel from the Assad regime in late August have continued to hold their ground, despite repeated regime air raids to dislodge them.
A demilitarized zone on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, rebel forces briefly captured the border crossing in June 2013 in what amounted to a short, if symbolic, victory.
The rebel forces consist of an alliance between FSA-affiliated brigades and Jabhat a-Nusra, according to Doha-based Brookings weapons specialist Charles Lister.
Since then, the rebels and the regime have been fighting for control of the villages in the Quneitra area. On Monday, the regime sent ground reinforcements to retake the rebel gains, according to Egyptian news agency Al-Yaum A-Sabea, while they continued to bomb opposition positions with warplanes and tanks, reported pro-opposition news agency Sham News Network.
“The regime went crazy after the FSA captured the crossing point,” says a Quneitra-based reporter working for the pro-opposition news agency Syria Mobasher who asked not to be identified.
For both the regime and the rebels, the reporter tells Syria Direct’s Mohammad al-Haj Ali, Quneitra is “a gateway into Damascus from the west.”
Q: What is the strategic importance of the Quneitra crossing border point? What is the importance of the Quneitra area as a whole for the FSA?
The strategic importance of Quneitra is that it is considered a gateway into Damascus from the west.
Rebels in Quneitra advance despite regime bombing. Photo courtesy of @ajmubasher.
Q: What does it mean that the FSA controls the only crossing point between Syria and Israel?
The FSA’s control over the Quneitra crossing means that it controls a long section of the border stretching from the Sheikh Mountains [the mountain border between Syria and Lebanon, and Syria and Israel], to the Quneitra border point, to the Yarmouk Valley in west Daraa all the way to the Jordan-Syria border.
Q: What was reaction from the Syrian regime after the rebels captured the border?
The regime went crazy after the FSA captured the crossing point and began attacking [the rebels] with all types of weapons. The regime heavily shelled the buffer zone in the Golan Heights, injuring one Israeli soldier.