Rundt 200 al Qaida-tilknyttede utenlandske opprørere står nå inne i den demilitariserte sonen på syrisk side. De kan være interessert i å angripe Israel derfra.
Opprørerne har erobret to landsbyer og forsøker å ta den viktige byen Quneitra. Israel frykter at den syriske grensen kan bli som den libanesiske: en fiendtlig milits opererer fritt i et land med svak sentralmakt.
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 Syrianarmed 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.
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 rebel advance was reported as opposition leaders sought recognition from Arab League and European states at a summit in Cairo that they said would allow them to acquire weapons overseas.
France became the first Western country to recognise the new opposition on Tuesday night. The US described the coalition as «a legitimate representative» of the Syrian.
One of the key issues facing the world is the increasing humanitarian crisis in Syria resulting from the fighting. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent said that more than 2.5 million people had lost their homes since the crisis began in 2011.
«The figure they are using is 2.5 million. If anything, they believe it could be more, this is a very conservative estimate,» Melissa Fleming, chief spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in Geneva.