Reports: Syrian Rebels Seize Intelligence Compound Near Golan Heights

3/18/2013 6:11 AM ET
Rebel forces seeking to overthow the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have seized control of a military intelligence facility near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, media reports citing Opposition activists said late on Sunday.
According to the rebels, the seized military facility is located near the Yarmouk River in the town of Shagara, about eight kilometers from the Israeli border. They said the facility, which was being used as a command center by one of the pro-government militia, fell after a five-day siege.
Nevertheless, such claims cannot be verified independently as most foreign media are barred from operating in the country.
Seizure of the intelligence compound has since been claimed by the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, a rebel group which had kidnapped 21 Filipino U.N. peacekeepers in the region last week. The peacekeepers were eventually released unharmed after a few days in captivity.
The peacekeeping mission, known as the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), was first established by the U.N. Security Council in the Golan Heights in 1974 to supervise the disengagement accord between Syrian and Israeli forces after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In recent months, the mission's area of operations had witnessed clashes between Syrian Armed Forces and rebels.
An estimated 70,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the armed rebellion against the Assad regime began in Syria in March 2011. The civil war has now forced about a million Syrians to seek refuge in neighboring countries, with a further two million more displaced internally.


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