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Syrian regime, Hizballah capture areas near Israeli-occupied Golan Heights Open in fullscreen

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Syrian regime, Hizballah capture areas near Israeli-occupied Golan Heights

Israel occupied the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967 [Getty: File photo]

Date of publication: 26 December, 2017

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Syrian regime and Hizballah have captured three new areas near the southern borders with Lebanon and Israel amid Israeli concerns of expanding Iranian influence

Syria's rebels face increasing pressure after regime forces captured new areas near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Monday.

Three new areas reportedly controlled by the Levant Liberation Committee was captured according to the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, who said troops are nearly 500 metres from a shrine sacred to the country's Druze community, Sheikh Abdullah.

Rebels are being held in the village of Beit Jin and in nearby areas after a ten day offensive added the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The army and Iranian-backed Shia militias led by Hizballah advanced yesterday east and south of the Sunni-rebel held bastion of Beit Jin backed by aerial bombing and heavy artillery shelling.

The enclave is the last rebel bastion left in the south west of Damascus known as the Western Ghouta that had since last year fallen under government control after months of heavy bombing on civilian areas and years of siege tactics that forced rebels to surrender.

Negotiations are currently underway to allow the rebels safe passage into the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib added the SOHR.

The push of the Syrian regime and their Iran-backed allies so close to the Israeli border has left Israel worried about Iran's expanding influence in the region. The last few weeks has seen increasing airstrikes against suspected Iranian targets in Syria.

Early this month an Israeli strike on a base near Kiswah, south of Damascus was widely believed to be an Iranian military compound, according to a Western intelligence source.

According to Reuters, Israel has been lobbying both big powers to deny Iran, Lebanon's Hizballah any permanent bases in Syria, and to keep them away from the Golan, as they gain ground while helping Damascus beat back Sunni-led rebels.

Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, Iran has had a growing presence in the country, deploying thousands of Shia fighters who have fought against both mainstream Sunni rebel groups and more militant groups.

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