Golan Heights (CNN) -- Heavy shelling and gunfire echoed close to the Syrian-Israeli frontier at the Golan Heights on Friday as the long-running war between Syrian rebels and government forces raged in a strategic area.
Plumes of smoke rose from Syria's southern villages, only a few miles across Israel's northern frontier, and bursts of automatic weapons fire were audible from the rocky plateau of the occupied Golan.
In the space of a few hours Friday, a CNN team overlooking the village of Bir Ajam, less than a mile from the fence marking the frontier, saw at least 11 shells land on a community where earlier farmers had been seen and children heard playing.
A government artillery position about a mile and a half from the village was seen to fire, and heavy machine gun fire was also heard.
The village is about five miles from Quneitra. The Quneitra crossing is the only access point between Syria and Israel and has previously been fiercely fought over by rebels and government forces.
The area being fought over by rebels and Syrian forces is strategically important because the Syrian capital, Damascus, lies only about 25 miles away.
If the rebels take control of the border area, they could potentially use it as a base to move toward the capital.
The border with Jordan is also not far away.
In recent months, reports have emerged -- denied by the Jordanian government -- that rebels are being trained in Jordan for operations just over the border in Syria against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.