Islamic State kidnaps scores of civilians in eastern Syria

Clay Curtis
October 16, 2018

Jordan and Syria have agreed to reopen a vital border crossing between the two countries, three years after the commercial lifeline fell to rebel groups and traffic was halted. Russian military police deployed in the area, including on the edge of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, setting up checkpoints in the area.

On Sunday, Israel's military announced that the United Nations has made a decision to return its peacekeeping force, known as UNDOF, to the Quneitra crossing area.

In Quneitra, the UN Disengagement Observer Force, which monitors a ceasefire line separating Israeli-occupied parts of the Golan Heights from Syria, resumed its patrols in the area in August.

The news came as Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem discussed "speeding up" the reopening of the country's border crossings with Iraq at a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari in Damascus.

In addition to Quneitra, Jordanian officials announced a day earlier the reopening of Naseeb crossing, Jordan's main border crossing with Syria, after a three-year closure due to the presence of foreign-backed terrorists.

The road between Damascus and the Jordanian capital of Amman was once a major regional trading route linking the Mediterranean ports of Lebanon, Syria and Turkey to the markets of the Gulf States.

The reopening of the crossing is a major boost to Jordan's struggling economy amid price rises and austerity measures which have sparked the country's worst protests in decades.

According to The Times of Israel, they were all moved into Syria, which is still controlled by the militants.

The Jordan-Syria border crossing was closed by the Jordanian authorities back in April 2015 as the Syrian post was seized by the militants.

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The Jaber-Nasib crossing between Jordan and Syria reopened first thing Monday morning, with the Quneitra crossing in Israel's Golan Heights following shortly after. It also reinforces the Syrian government's message that it is slowly emerging victorious from the seven-year conflict.

Syrian government troops recaptured it in July, after rebels reached an agreement with Russian mediators to end the violence in the southern province of Deraa and surrender the crossing.

It was also used by Druze living on the Israeli side travelling to Syria for trade, education or weddings.

A Jordanian policeman checks a auto at Jordan's Jaber border crossing checkpoint near Syria's Nasib checkpoint, near Mafraq, Jordan, October 15, 2018.

UNDOF had withdrawn from the area in 2014 when Al-Qaeda-linked rebels overran the area.

The U.S-led coalition said it couldn't confirm news of the kidnapping.

"The border between Israel and Syria was very calm before the start of the Syrian civil war and the return to normal is very convenient for Israel", he told AFP.

Regime forces recaptured the Quneitra area in July.

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