DAMASCUS, Jan 03: Fierce fighting between Syrian government forces and armed opposition groups has continued in the Quneitra province of the country’s southwest as locals report a massive build-up of troops and pro-government militias in several towns, says an Al Jazeera report.
Opposition groups retook Quneitra after the Syrian army briefly controlled it on Saturday, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The escalation of clashes comes just days after the Syrian government launched a major offensive in the Quneitra province, situated on the border of the roughly 70 percent of the Golan Heights under Israeli occupation since 1967.
Modar Shanwan, a spokesman for the Revolutionary Command Council in Quneitra and the Golan, a coalition of armed opposition groups, said that government forces “breached [the Quneitra province] down the middle” and were “supported by militias” and artillery bombardments.
“But the revolutionaries recovered control of the Samdaniah village” over the weekend, he told Al Jazeera, referring to a village that the Syrian government had taken over on Thursday. “Assad’s militias [later] tried to sneak back in [and] dozens of them were killed.”
The spokesman also said that government forces had dropped barrel bombs on the area in recent days.
In mid-2015, Quneitra-based opposition groups launched an offensive aimed at expelling all government forces from the province. Rebels have expanded their control throughout out most of the region.