Syrian troops capture rebel-held areas near Israel border
Kurds capture town from Islamists overnight, consolidating control in northeast Syria.
Syrian state TV says government forces have captured two rebel-held areas on the edge of the Israeli border.
The report, citing a military official, says troops and pro-government gunmen captured Saturday the areas of Rasm al-Hour and Rasm al-Sad, south of the town of Quneitra. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory For Human Rights confirmed troops were on the offensive, adding that the air force was taking part in the attack.
The Syrian army has been reinforcing its positions in Quneitra as part of efforts to drive rebels from the area, which is near the Golan Heights, since the opposition named a new military chief on Monday.
Brig. Gen. Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir hails from southern Syria and was an army commander in Quneitra until 2012, when he defected to the opposition.
Kurds take town from Islamists
Meanwhile, a Kurdish group captured a town in Syria from Islamists on Saturday in a battle in which at least 28 fighters were killed, most of them Islamists, a monitoring group reported
If the Kurds can keep hold of Tal Brak, on a highway between the cities of Hassaka and Qamishli, it would mark a significant advance in their quest for wider control in the northeast.
Online Islamist activists said fighting was still going on, but the Syrian Observatory, an opposition-affiliated watchdog, said the Kurdish People's Protection Units had taken the town.
Syrian Kurds have expanded their sway in the northeast, where they are setting up their own administration, since the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad began three years ago.
The People's Protection Units said in a statement they had taken Tal Brak after a midnight assault on fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other militants.
It said Kurdish fighters were in possession of the bodies of 16 of the 50 "armed mercenaries" they had killed, and had taken 42 prisoners. It said three Kurdish fighters had also been killed.
The Syrian Observatory said at least 25 Islamists had been killed.
Redur Xelil, spokesman for the People's Protection Units, said: "The operation was over at 5 A.M. and the armed groups and mercenaries that were there were expelled."
"The town is completely controlled by the People's Protection Units," he told Reuters by telephone, adding that nearby villages were also under the group's control.
More aid pledged
Also on Saturday, the UN Security Council unanimously demanded immediate access everywhere in Syria to deliver humanitarian aid to millions of people in desperate need.
Russia and China, strong supporters of the Syrian government, joined the rest of the council Saturday in sending a strong message to Assad's government that civilians caught in the conflict must be helped.
The resolution doesn't threaten sanctions but it does express the council's intention to take "further steps" if the resolution isn't implemented.