Syrian rebels Wednesday seized control of two villages in the demilitarized zone between Syrian and Israeli positions on the Golan Heights, opposition activists told dpa.
"After heavy fighting over the past week, the rebels managed to take over the two towns of Bir Ajam and Bariqa," the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, said.
"Government forces are now eager to regain them, that is why they are heavily shelling the area."
Both villages are located in the demilitarized Golan Heights, a strategic plateau, most of which was captured by Israel in 1967 and later annexed.
The zone is still under Syrian civil control, but its military is not permitted to enter under a United Nations-policed ceasefire agreement.
Activist Haytham al-Abdallah told dpa from Damascus that rebels now control areas surrounding the Golan provincial capital Quneitra, which is also in the demilitarized zone.
The news could not be independently confirmed, and there was no official comment from the UN Disengagement Observer Force.
The rebel's new gains come two days after Israeli artillery responded to a stray Syrian shell by firing across the ceasefire line for the first time since the Syrian uprising began, in March 2011.
Elsewhere, violence continued to grip the northern province of Idlib, near the Syrian-Turkish border, where initial reports suggested five civilians had been killed, as well as in the outskirts of the capital.
Tuesday's death toll across Syria reached 210, according to opposition sources.