UN peacekeepers withdrew from all of their posts in the Syrian Golan Heights Monday, as regime forces and rebel factions battled for control of the areas adjacent to the Syrian-Israeli border in what the UN called a “deteriorating situation.”
A UN spokesperson said all the troops posted on the Syrian side had been ordered to pull back into Israel.
The Syrian armed groups posed “a direct threat to the safety and security” of the troops from the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.
“All the UN personnel in these positions have thus been relocated to the Alpha side,” said Dujarric, referring to the Israeli side.
The UN spokesperson said that the situation on the Syrian side of the Golan “has deteriorated severely over the last several days” and that “armed groups have made advances in the area of UNDOF positions.”
The Islamic State terror group is operating sleeper cells in southern Syria near the border with Israel, a spokesman for the opposition’s Free Syrian Army charged Sunday.
The spokesman, speaking to The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to communicate with Israeli media, said that some of the 6,000 Islamist fighters who fled southward toward the borders with Israel and Jordan in July actually belong to the Islamic State, not to the less extreme Nusra Front as previously believed.
The two Islamist organizations had clashed militarily in a struggle for control over oil-rich northeastern Syria, in which the Islamic State triumphed. The Times of Israel could not confirm the information, which was recently conveyed to the spokesman from a number of different sources.
While both are opposed to the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Free Syrian Army, a moderate rebel group, and Islamic State have fought a number of fierce battles in Syria.
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