by Staff Writers
Beirut (AFP) March 1, 2013
Syrian troops retook on Friday a checkpoint on the northeastern border with Syria, captured a day earlier by Jihadist fighters of Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.
The rebels had overrun the post at Yaarubiyeh in oil-rich Hassakeh province on Thursday after fierce clashes, the Britain-based Observatory said.
"Government forces succeeded in retaking the Yaarubiyeh crossing less than 24 hours after it was taken by fighters from the Al-Nusra Front" and other rebel elements, the Observatory said.
They also "captured half of the city of Yaarubiyeh," it added.
Al-Nusra Front, an increasingly influential factor in Syria's conflict, also took control of the nearby town of Shaddadeh and surrounding villages in mid-February.
The border crossing was controlled by rebel forces last year before the army recaptured it.
Al-Nusra Front first gained notoriety for its suicide bombings in Syria's main cities and has evolved into a strong fighting force leading attacks on battlefronts throughout the country.
Its tactics and suspected affiliation to Al-Qaeda's offshoot in Iraq have landed it on the US list of terrorist organisations.
Rebels of the mainstream Free Syrian Army have told AFP that Al-Nusra fighters, despite their small numbers, have greater economic and logistical support than other insurgents and funding from abroad.
The jihadist group targets strategic points mainly in eastern Syria, including oil and gas facilities, and draws recruits from the local population by paying them a salary.
It aspires to create an Islamic state in Syria, whose regime accuses Saudi Arabia and Qatar of financing Islamist fighters in the two-year-old conflict that the UN says has killed at least 70,000 people.
Netanyahu, King Abdullah II discuss Mideast peace: diplomat
"Last week, Netanyahu travelled to Jordan and met King Abdullah II," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "In the meeting, they discussed the Middle East peace process."
It was Netanyahu's first trip abroad and first meeting with a foreign head of state since Israel's January 22 general election.
In December, Israeli officials were quoted by media as confirming a report in an Arab daily about a meeting between Netanyahu and the king in Jordan that focused on Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been on hold since September 2010.
Jordan and the peacemaking international Quartet sponsored several rounds of meetings between envoys from each side last year which brought no breakthrough.
The Palestinians demand that Israel stop building settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem before a resumption of negotiations, but Israel rejects any preconditions for talks.
The latest talks between Netanyahu and Abdullah II come ahead of an expected visit by US President Barack Obama, who announced he would be in the region in the spring, with Israeli media putting the date at March 20.
The White House has played down speculation Obama would present a new peace initiative during his visit, stressing instead as the trip's primary agenda Iran's nuclear challenge and the civil war threatening to tear Syria apart.
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