Syrian army attacks rebel forces on Israeli border

The Syrian regime army launched an attack on Thursday in order to try and regain control of south-western territory that the government has lost over the last three years.

The rebels claim that the attack began at dawn, when the army stormed the town of Samdaniya al Gharbiya near the Israeli border. Both sides claim that the rebels control the area.

Simultaneously, under the auspices of rain and fog, government troops raided the strategic town of Hamdanieh, in the Syrian Golan Heights, which they lost two years ago.

“They launched an extensive attack on two towns in heavy fog, when you can barely see someone a few meters away from you,” said Abu Yahya, a spokesman for the local rebel group, al-Wiyat al Furqan.

The Quneitra Governorate is essential in the continued rule of the regime because of its proximity to the capital city – it is situated only 70 kilometers south-west of Damascus.

The Syrian army relies on ground troops and heavy artillery attacks, but its proximity to the Israeli border limits Assad’s use of air force power.

The attack in Quneitra is the first major operation in southern Syria since Russia began to intervene in the civil war last September.

The assault came a few days after an attack on the town of Sheikh Maksin that saw Russia’s heaviest bombing campaign so far in the area.