Only Syrian army should be on southern border: Russia

The sun sets over the Gaza Strip as seen from the Israeli side of the border

The sun sets over the Gaza Strip as seen from the Israeli side of the border

Government forces recently dropped leaflets on rebel-held areas in Daraa, warning of an imminent offensive and urging anti-Assad fighters to lay down their arms.

The southern province, which is mostly controlled by opposition groups, is close to the volatile Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights, which has emerged as a flashpoint in a wider standoff between Israel and Iran.

Washington has cautioned it would take "firm and appropriate measures" to protect a cease-fire in southern Syria if President Bashar Assad's forces move against rebels there.

Israel has always been anxious that any Syrian government advance would bring Iran-backed militias with it to the area near the occupied Golan Heights.

The United States, Russia, and Jordan agreed a year ago to include Daraa in a "de-escalation zone" and freeze lines of conflict there.

The unconfirmed reports by Al Sharq al Awsat come as the Saudi-owned Elaph news site reported that Israel and Iran had been engaged in indirect negotiations in the Jordanian capital of Amman over the weekend.

"When you consider the advanced weapon systems - surface to surface missiles and anti aircraft systems - that the Iranians want to deploy in Syria, it becomes clear that they must be prevented from doing so in all of Syria and not only within a limited distance from the Israeli border", Chagai Tzuriel, director-general of the intelligence ministry, told Reuters.

Syria is planning offensives against rebels in the southwestern area of the country, near the Jordan border.

"The result of this work which should continue and is continuing should be a situation when representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic's army stand at Syria's border with Israel", he said.

The report also stated that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield has also been working on a deal, which would see, among other things, the withdrawal of all Syrian and non-Syrian militias some 20-25 kilometers from the Jordanian border and the formation of a US-Russian mechanism to control the implementation of the agreement.

The territory is covered by a ceasefire agreement signed previous year between the US, Russia and neighbouring Jordan.

A senior official who requested anonymity told Reuters news agency the three countries that signed last year's deal "saw eye to eye" on the need to preserve the zone as a key step to "accelerate efforts to reach a political solution" in Syria.

Israel called on Monday for its arch-foe Iran to be denied any military presence in Syria, after Russian Federation said Damascus' forces alone should control Syrian territory near the Israeli and Jordanian borders.

Israel has warned it will not tolerate a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria. The talks are expected to focus on coordinating positions on USA withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, as well as efforts to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.