The fierce battles in the Quneitra region between the Syrian army and rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad threatened to result in a significant military confrontation between Israel and Syria, American blogger Nabil Abi Saab reported on Saturday.
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The report was based on a document submitted to the Security Council by Herve Ladsous, UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations. Ladsous said during a meeting with 15 members of the Security Council in New York that the IDF and Syrian army were on the verge of the most direct military clash between the neighboring countries on the Golan Heights front in the past 40 years.
UN vehicles near Quneitra battle zone (Photo: AP)
The document, titled "Note on developments in UNDOF," said that after the rebels' capture of Quneitra, the Syrian army put five tanks and five armored personnel carriers in the demilitarized buffer zone in the Golan.
Fighting in Quneitra area (Photo: Reuters)
"The Israel Defense Forces informed the UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) Commander that should the movement of SAAF tanks continue, the IDF would take action. Subsequently, the UNDOF Force Commander conveyed the message to the Senior Syrian Arab Delegate (SSAD), UNDOF's main interlocutor on the Bravo side," the document stated.
"The SSAD informed the UNDOF Force Commander that the presence of the tanks was solely for the purpose of fighting the armed members of the opposition and asked that the IDF not take action," it read.
Israel has not confirmed the exchange. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's office explained that Israel had complained to the UN about the entrance of tanks into the buffer zone, while security establishment officials denied the IDF had threatened to attack Syrian army forces.
The UN document also stated that the "Israel Liaison Officer informed UNDOF that the IDF had provided emergency medical treatment to a total of 16 armed members of the opposition," who were later returned to Syrian territory.
"Throughout the fighting, the UNDOF Force Commander remained in contact with both sides in an effort to prevent an escalation of the situation across the ceasefire line, and to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel," according to the document.
The Quneitra border crossing, a symbol of the Assad regime in the Golan Heights, has become a key target for rebel forces. The rebels seized control of the crossing earlier this week, but it was recaptured by Assad's forces a few hours later.
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