Syrian rebels take villages near Israel-held area
JERUSALEM – Syrian rebels control almost all the villages near the frontier with the Israel-held Golan Heights, the Israeli defense minister said Wednesday, bringing the conflict dangerously close to the Jewish state and raising the possibility of an armed clash with the region's strongest power.
During a tour of the Golan Heights, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave a scathing assessment of Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and said Israel will remain "vigilant and alert."
"Almost all of the villages, from the foot of this ridge to the very top, are already in the hands of the Syrian rebels," said Barak, who was accompanied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "The Syrian army is displaying ever-diminishing efficiency."
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