In yet another potentially volatile development, Syrian rebels from the Islamist Nusra Front reportedly grabbed control of the border crossing between Israel and Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees said the crossing was wrested from Assad forces on Wednesday.
The Observatory says the rebels come from the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front and other Islamic factions. It says they were fighting Assad's forces in the towns of Jaba, Tal Kroum and Rawadi in Quneitra province.
It says at least 20 Syrian soldiers and an unknown number of rebels were killed.
Earlier on Wednesday, an Israeli officer was wounded as mortars and gunfire from the battles in Syria spilled over into Israel.
Throughout the three-plus years of the Syrian Civil War, cross-border clashes between Israel and the various factions fighting in Syria have been surprisingly limited, given the history of enmity and the fact that all parties involved in fighting in Syria hate Israel.
Nevertheless, despite intermittent exchanges of gunfire, mortars, and a few Israeli airstrikes against weapon convoys reportedly headed toward Hezbollah in Lebanon, a true front has not yet opened, even as fighting in Syria has spread into Lebanon and Iraq.
The seizing of a border crossing has the potential to change the dynamic. There were other immediate downsides as well:
With jihadists in control of Israel-Syria crossing, duty free has lost remaining appeal. Booze no longer sold, but scimitars are half price.— Gil Shefler (@Gilshefler) August 27, 2014