Syrian army retakes Golan frontier crossing

Syrian regime forces on Thursday retook the only crossing along the Israel-Syria ceasefire line in the Golan Heights after it was seized earlier by rebels, an AFP correspondent and a security source said.

Regime tanks were seen on the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing approaching the ceasefire line, the correspondent said, after clashes there between rebels and the Syrian army that involved small-arms fire and shelling.

A security source, who requested anonymity, separately confirmed to AFP: "The Syrian army has recovered control of the crossing. There are sounds of explosions from time to time but far less than in the morning."

Earlier, the army confirmed that the Quneitra crossing and the nearly town of the same name had been "overrun" by rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria's more than two-year civil war.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors the conflict, also reported the rebel takeover.

The crossing is seen as strategically important because of its position in a demilitarised zone of the Golan Heights, most of which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Syria's conflict has spilled over into the Israeli-occupied Golan several times over the past few months, with army vehicles coming under fire from Assad's troops and stray shells landing on the Israeli side of the ceasefire line.

The Quneitra crossing is the only direct passage between Israel and Syria and is used almost exclusively by Druze residents of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights who are allowed to cross over to study, work or get married.

Israel seized a large section of the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981, in a move never recognised by the international community.

Israel and Syria are still technically at a state of war.