Standing on the border between Lebanon and Israel there were two very deep, very big booms. One low pulse, and then another, like two points of thunder. I asked an Israeli soldier what he thought it could be. He shrugged.
Thirty miles east we crossed the Jordan river and entered the Golan Heights, a mountainous area that Israel took from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day war. The land on either side of the road up to the Golan was scrub. An occasional animal grazed in the distance.
Long sections of the road were lined with yellow signs, carrying the message: “Danger. Mines.” Another legacy of the ’67 war. A few years back a family went hiking in these fields. It had snowed that day and they didn’t see the warnings.
In recent days, Islamic State has retaken the historic Syrian city of Palmyra from the Syrian military—and in the city of Aleppo anti-government forces have been defeated. A slaughter is underway. In the week before, viewed from an old look-out post, Syria looked peaceful. A haze hung over the brown fields and, to the north, the mountain peaks were capped with snow. Out ahead was the town of Khan Arnabeh, through which the road to Damascus ran in a broad boulevard. To the south west was Quneitra, laid waste by Israel in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur war and never re-built.