Syrian Civil War Edges Closer as Seven Rebels Taken to Israeli Hospital

Syrian rebels overrun a military police checkpoint in Khan Arnabeh, a town in the Golan Heights near the ceasefire line along the demilitarized zone with Israel.

IDF forces gave medical assistance on Saturday to seven injured Syrian nationals near the border in Israel's north. The men, who are likely rebels wounded by pro-Assad forces, were then taken to a Safed hospital for further treatment.

On Saturday afternoon, IDF soldiers noticed five wounded men near the border fence in the northern Golan Heights. Later on they located two more wounded men. After being treated on site, they were transferred to Ziv hospital.

One of the men is reportedly severely wounded, while the others suffered medium injuries from bullets and shrapnel.

Syrian rebels earlier overran a military police checkpoint in Khan Arnabeh, a town in the Golan Heights near the ceasefire line along the demilitarized zone with Israel, a British-based violence monitoring group said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels seized weapons and a tank and the Syria army shelled villages inside the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire area.

This is the second incident on the Israeli-Syrian border this week: Several days ago, a man was spotted approaching the Israeli side of the border fence. After identified by IDF forces, the man was ordered to stop but continued toward the border. IDF soldiers shot at his legs, after which he was taken away by UN forces into Syrian territory.

Meanwhile, the national Syrian coalition that represents most of the opposition forces issued a statement Saturday saying it would be open to negotiations with any government representatives except Assad and the top leadership who they accuse of involvement in massacres against the Syrian people.

Rebel forces said Saturday that they managed to wrest control of a military base near the Aleppo airport that was used by Assad's fighters to carry out airstrikes.
For weeks now, rebels have been singling out airports for attacks, in an attempt to erase Assad's forces aerial advantage. Significant importance has been attached by them to the fighting in the Aleppo area and the northern regions of the country, as control of them would mean the establishment of a buffer zone between the Turkish border and Syria's second biggest city.

Also on Saturday, Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV station reported that four Turkish officers who were fighting with the rebel forces were killed in the Aleppo area clashes. The Syrian regime has been accusing Turkey of assisting the rebel forces since the beginning of the conflict.

Earlier this week, Syrian rebels took control of the country's biggest dam on the Euphrates River in the eastern province of Raqqa, activists said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other Syrian activists said Islamist fighters seized the entrances to the dam after taking control of the nearby town of al-Thawra.

On Monday, Syria's main opposition leader signaled that his offer of talks with the government to end the country's 22-month-old civil war was still open, a day after a deadline he had set passed without a response.

Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz Alkhatib, speaking after talks with the head of the Arab League in Cairo, said President Bashar Assad's government had not responded by Sunday to his initiative to discuss a transition of power.

Israeli soldiers clean the barrel of a mobile artillery unit after an exercise in the Golan Heights, near Israel's border with Syria February 14, 2013.Credit: Reuters

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