Israel intends to declare a buffer zone inside the Syrian border to prevent terrorists from getting too close to its territory when the embattled Damascus regime topples, security sources quoted by the AFP news agency said on Sunday.
"There's a plan in the military's northern command for the 'day after' according to which, when Bashar Assad is no longer president of Syria, there's a fear that terror elements will try to approach the fence," the sources told AFP. "So they want to create some sort of buffer zone within Syrian territory, and let everyone know. This is to prevent a situation where terror reaches the fence without us being able to prevent it, by allowing us to see it," the sources explained.
"This will be a buffer zone belonging to Syria. We are not invading Syrian land," the sources said, stressing these were initial plans, and not providing specifics on how deep into Syrian territory the buffer zone would go.
An IDF spokesperson would not comment on the plans, but said that the new security fence along the border with Syria was almost completed.
In May 2011, Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators from Syria after hundreds breached the old security fence and entered Israel, in an attempted invasion of Israel. IDF troops opened fire to scatter the group, but a number were able to infiltrate Israel.
Israel had a buffer zone on its Lebanese border from 1885-2000, from the end of the First Lebanon War. A small contingent of IDF units were left to patrol that Security Zone in order to prevent infiltration into Northern Israel, and to provide a deterrent force against any attempt by Palestinian or other militia groups to fire longer range weapons into Israel proper.