Two militants ride a motorcycle towards an abandoned UN base at Syria’s Quneitra border crossing with the occupied territories, on November 28, 2016. (Photo by AP)
United Nations UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed concerns about a spike in contacts between Israeli armed forces and Syria militants in recent months.
In a report released recently, Guterres warned that the growing interactions between the two sides could lead to escalation and cause harm to members of the UN Disengagement Observer Force deployed to the Golan Heights.
According to the report, UN observers listed 16 meetings between the Israel forces and the Syria militants in the border area, including on Mount Hermon, in proximity to UN outposts in Syria’s Quneitra Province and the Golan Heights, from March 2 to May 16.
“Relative to the previous reporting period, there has been a significant increase in interaction” between Israeli soldiers and individuals from the Syrian side of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, “occurring on four occasions in February, three in March, eight in April and on one occasion in May,” the report said.
In its previous report released in March, the UN listed at least 17 interactions between the two sides between November 18, 2016, and March 1, 2017.
The figures show a significant increase when compared with only two such meetings recorded between August 30 and November 16, 2016.
The report said people likely affiliated with the militant groups, some of them armed, arrived at an Israeli outpost accompanied by mules and were greeted by the soldiers.
“In some instances, personnel and supplies were observed to have been transferred in both directions. On all occasions, the unknown individuals and mules returned to the Bravo (Syrian) side,” it added.