Only Syrian army should have presence in south, say Russian Federation and Israel

Minnie Murray
May 29, 2018

The US' military presence in Syria has regularly been condemned by the Syrian government as a violation of the state's sovereignty, as US military personnel are operating in the Arab Republic without approval from Damascus or the UN.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said in remarks to the Knesset on Monday that Iran should be pressured to leave Syria altogether.

Meanwhile, Israel is meeting with US officials to hammer out the details of a joint strategy for dealing with Iran's presence in the Middle East.

Late a year ago, the U.S., Russian Federation and Jordan had agreed to create a "de-escalation zone" in southwest Syria, parts of which border Israel.

Earlier, Russia's foreign minister said in a surprising statement that the Assad regime alone should be present at the border with Israel, stating that "a situation where only Syria's military forces will be placed at the Syrian side of the border with Israel - that should be the result of the process".

In addition to violence inside Syria, Daraa's location on the border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights makes any operation there highly sensitive. Iran is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and its advisers are embedded with his troops. In this endeavour it has formidable obstacles to overcome: "the regime is more dependent than ever on Iran, which Israel regards as its most implacable state foe; other enemies, particularly Hizbollah and Iran-backed Shiite militias, are entrenched in Syria with Russia's blessing; and the US, notwithstanding the Trump administration's strident rhetoric, has done little to reverse Iran's gains", reads a February report from the International Crisis Group. The Iranians denied they had fired any rockets.

Israel and Iran recently used back channels to reach ‎behind-the-scenes understandings over Syrian ‎maneuvers in the southern Golan Heights, Saudi media ‎reported Sunday.‎.

Jordanian officials served as mediator, shuttling messages between the two rooms, according to the report.

The source added that the Syrian government will order the Syrian Army and the wider coalition of government forces to liberate the entirety of Syria.

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