DAMASCUS, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- An array of radical militant groups on Wednesday seized a border crossing between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, killing 20 Syrian soldiers, activists said.
The seizure of the al-Qunaitera crossing came after intense battles between the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, which was backed by like-minded groups, and the Syrian army forces and their loyal troops, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK- based watchdog group that relies on a network of activists on ground.
According to the Observatory, the militants unleashed what they called the "Battle of True Promise" which is aimed at seizing many areas in Syria's southern al-Qunaitera province, bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
It added that intense battles are still raging in areas in al- Qunaitera and its countryside.
Syria's mainstream media has yet to comment on the news.
Syria has technically been in a state of war with Israel since a long time ago. Their enmity has risen with the Syrian administration rendering support to the Lebanese Hezbollah.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israel war. Syria launched another war in 1973 to regain some small parts of the land that Israel occupied six years earlier.
In recent months of the Syrian crisis, Israel has offered medical treatment to dozens of Syrian rebels in al-Qunaitera, amid local warnings that it was doing so to protect its side of the borders against possible threats from radical militants.
In a separate attack Wednesday, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV said the Nusra fighters waged another attack against the Mhardeh town in the central province of Hama amid ongoing clashes there with the Syrian army.
The Nusra fighters have reportedly been poising for this battle recently as part of their broader plan to seize strategic areas in Hama.
Also Wednesday, the Syrian troops foiled an attack by the radical rebels against areas in the al-Qalamoun region, specifically in the Flaita town in the western countryside of the capital Damascus, according to al-Mayadeen.
The surge in the radical rebels' operations came just days after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution, allowing actions to put an end to the threats of the Nusra Front and the Islamic State (IS) militants.
Syria's Assad forms new gov't with slight changes
DAMASCUS, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a presidential decree on Wednesday to form a new government under incumbent Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi, bringing in few new ministers, according to the state news agency SANA.
The new government keeps the ministers of all major ministries unchanged, including Minister of Defense Fahed Jassem, Minister of Foreign Affairs Walid al-Moallem and Minister of Information Omran al-Zoubi. Full story
Syrian mortars hit Golan Heights as battles rage near border
JERUSALEM, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Three mortar shells fired from Syria hit the Golan Heights on Wednesday morning, as fierce fighting between the Syrian army and rebels spills over the interim border, a spokesperson with the Israeli military told Xinhua.
The errant fire moderately injured one Israeli officer, who was evacuated for further treatment, the spokesperson said. An agricultural vehicle was also damaged. Full story