(PJM Exclusive) Watching Syria's Civil War from the Israeli Border
We were there only a few minutes before another engagement erupted directly across from us near Qahtaniah, with smoke visible along the road:
This particular area in the Quneitra Governate has been a hotspot of activity between the Syrian Islamic Front and the Free Syrian Army against the 9th and 61st divisions of the Syrian army.
Not much later, we saw a running engagement in Khan Arnabah that appeared to spread out over several blocks of the city:
Then, the engagement we had been watching earlier in Qahtaniah began to spread with another engagement a few hundred meters away on the same road, directly south:
All the while, the heavy black smoke was visible over the hill in the area of Beer Ajam:
Trying to get a better view of that action was a bit problematic, as everything except the road in that area was mined:
In the 20 minutes we were at that location, we observed three separate engagements just in this limited area on a random day.
There were concerns that we might be spotted, so we drove further north in the Golan, past the UN crossing in Quneitra to the Druze villages.
It was hard to make much of the short time we were there with a front row seat to the Syrian civil war, but it was evident that considerable activity was taking place immediately beside the contested Israel/Syria border in the Golan. There are concerns that if the Syrian Islamic Front -- or even hardcore Salafist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra -- were to take and hold that area, it could serve as a long-term platform for launching attacks targeting Israel (as already happens in the north with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and in the south with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza). With the war already spilling into Turkey and Lebanon, an incident in this area could lead to Israel being dragged into the conflict. This area of the Golan saw some of the fiercest fighting exactly 40 years ago during the Yom Kippur War, the remnants of which are still visible.
The situation in Syria has risen to the level of a low-grade regional war. But if it ever becomes a full-fledged regional war -- or even a world war -- this area of the Golan Hights would unquestionably be Ground Zero for an expansion of the conflict.