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Syrian Conflict Extends To Border With Israel

Syrian opposition forces are battling for control of regions near the Israeli border, threatening a conflict with that country, reports Nasser Chararah.
Israelis use binoculars to see the fighting in the Syrian village of al-Jamlah, from the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria March 7, 2013. Israel voiced confidence on Thursday that the United Nations could secure the release of U.N. peacekeepers seized by Syrian rebels near the Golan Heights, signalling it would not intervene in the crisis. Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognized internati
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Over the last two weeks clashes in Syria between the regime and opposition forces have expanded in scope and extended to the Syrian border region with Israel. Opposition forces chose the town of Khan al-Shih and its environs from which to launch attack on the barracks of the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian army. This location boasts the geographical advantage of being located in between the capital city of Damascus and the city of Quneitra, the latter of which sits on the edge of the occupied Golan Heights, adjacent to the ceasefire line dividing Israel and Syria.

This area is also home to the Khan al-Shih Camp, a refugee camp for Palestinians, which, despite the fact that its residents are legally refugees, houses a population that is largely middle-class, with some families that could even be considered well-off. Contrary to the commonly held correlation between poverty and religious extremism, the refugee camp of Khan al-Shih has seen the popularity of radical Islamist groups steadily increase over the past two decades. Within the past five years, Syrian security forces foiled Salafist groups’ attempts to establish an “Islamic emirate” within the camp.

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