ANALYSIS: The Iranian Axis is nearing Israel's border

The pro-Assad coalition on Wednesday bombed Nawa, 12 kilometers from Israel.

Yochanan Visser,

View from Israeli Golan Heights of fighting in Syria (file)
View from Israeli Golan Heights of fighting in Syria (file)
Basel Awidat/Flash 90

Between 45,000 and 120,000 Syrian civilians fled their homes in the Daraa and Kuneitra provinces in Syria this week, the United Nations and Emad Batin, deputy chairman of the regional government of the Syrian province of Daraa, reported on Wednesday.

Many of these refugees have taken refuge along the Israeli border in the hope that the Syrian army, supported by Iran and Russia, will not attempt to enter the region along the border on the Golan Heights.

Another group tried to flee to Jordan. However, the government in Amman has closed the border with Syria because it is no longer able to accommodate new Syrian refugees. King Abdullah II fears unrest among the Jordanian people who recently protested emergency measures that were introduced to save the country's economy.

Jordan has taken in more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees who have aggravated an already bad economic situation in the country.

The offensive by the pro-Assad coalition effectively put an end to a ceasefire agreement agreed upon by Russia, Jordan and the United States in July last year.

That agreement created de-confliction zones along the Jordanian and Israeli border in Syria and was meant to prevent the Iranian-backed Shiite militias from popping up at the borders between Syria, Jordan and Israel.

So far, the offensive has been mainly limited to Daara where the pro-Assad coalition succeeded in re-conquering the eastern part of the province this week.

Only sporadic bombing and other combat actions were reported in the Kuneitra province on the Syrian Golan Heights.

One of these actions was the taking over of a deserted UN compound in Kuneitra by the Syrian army, a clear violation of the 1973 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Syria.

Iran, meanwhile, plays a double game with Israel and the United States which officially announced this week that no military assistance will be provided to the Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups in southern Syria.

The Americans have arranged a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald J. Trump who reportedly will meet Putin after a NATO meeting in Helsinki next month, as an unnamed Western diplomat reported.

Trump will exert pressure on Putin concerning a complete Iranian withdrawal from Syria, something that Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu of Israel and his cabinet have been demanding for a long time.

In the meantime, the Americans have given Israel a green light to attack Iran and its allies in Syria wherever the IDF and IAF deem it necessary.

The permission came after Israeli media and The Long War Journal reported that the Iranians and their Shiite militias in Syria are playing a double game.

Officially Hezbollah and the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard reported that they have withdrawn from the Syrian Golan Heights and from the border with Jordan in the Daara province.

However, later it turned out Hezbollah and other Shiite fighters had only changed uniforms and now take part in the battle as soldiers of the Syrian army.

There’s more evidence Iran is again lying again about its role in the Syrian war.

This week the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militia Liwa Sulfiqar published videos and photos on its Facebook page which clearly show the militia is participating in the fighting in Daraa.

A video on the Liwa Sulfiqar Facebook page showed members of the militia joining Syrian soldiers in the battle for Busra al Harir a strategically important town in eastern Daraa.

The Shiite Iraqi militia furthermore claimed claimed Islamist rebels in Daraa had tried to assassinate its commander.

A Druze reporter in the Suweida province east of Daraa furthermore confirmed on Wednesday that a large part of Assad's army receives training in Iran by the Revolutionary Guards.

Suweida, which is home to a large Druze minority in Syria, remained largely outside the Syrian civil war because the majority of the Druze there remained loyal to the Syrian dictator al-Assad. The pro-Assad coalition is only attacking ISIS hubs in Suweida

The coalition is now advancing towards the Israeli border in the south of the Golan Heights and on Wednesday bombed the city of Nawa, only 12 kilometers from Israel.

The situation has been further complicated by the fact that the Russian Air Force is participating in the bombing of rebel positions in southern Syria.

Israel has an agreement with Russia to prevent confrontations between the IAF and the Russian Air Force in Syrian airspace.

Russia's participation in the offensive in southern Syria will probably mean Israel will not be able to intervene militarily in southern Syria so as to keep the pro-Assad coalition away from the border on the Golan Heights.

The Syrian army and its Shiite allies, on the other hand, are cautious not to provoke Israel and are quietly filling up the vacuum left by rebels who decided to leave the Golan Heights in anticipation of the upcoming battle.

The most likely scenario for the endgame in the battle for southwest Syria is therefore that the pro-Assad coalition will try to close a so-called reconciliation deal with the rebels in the vicinity of the Israeli border.

In exchange for surrender, the mainly Islamist rebels in the area could get a free passage to the Idlib province in northern Syria or to the desert in eastern Syria where the population is mainly Sunni Muslim.

Such deals ended earlier stand-offs between the pro-Assad coalition and Islamist rebel groups across Syria.

The IDF, meanwhile, has raised its level of awareness on the Golan Heights and is providing humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees.

The army has transferred 15 tons of baby formula, 13 tons of food and 300 tents to the displaced persons.

IsraeI also allowed for the medical treatment of 6 wounded Syrians, but has made clear it will not take in any refugees.








top