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Report: US-Russia ceasefire deal undermines Syria’s sovereignty  

July 13, 2017 at 4:50 pm

The border between Israeli occupied Golan Heights and Syria [Eviatar Bach/Wikipedia]

Details disclosed about last Sunday’s ceasefire agreement between the US and Russia reveals that the two countries have agreed to bar Iranian-backed foreign fighters from a stretch of Syrian territory near the border of Israel.

Three diplomatic sources cited by Foreign Policy magazine confirmed that Iranian forces and their proxies, including Hezbollah, will not be permitted near the Israeli occupied Golan Heights.

Israel has repeatedly declared its intentions to annex the occupied Golan Heights with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring that the area will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty saying “we will never leave the Golan Heights. It’s ours”. President Reuven Rivlin, speaking at an event marking the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights, urged the world to recognise the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

It is thought that the agreement is aimed at placating Israel which, according to UN observers in the Golan Heights charged with maintaining the ceasefire, has transferred “supplies” to anti-Assad armed military groups in the ceasefire zone.

But former US diplomats and observers questioned whether the agreement is truly enforceable. Foreign Policy reported veteran US diplomat, Gerald Feierstein, saying: “The question is, ‘Who is going to enforce that?’ Is Russia going to take on the responsibility for telling Iran what to do?”

Feierstein went on to say that a peace deal without Iranian buy-in is untenable. “Iranians are much closer to Assad’s position on the way forward in Syria than the Russians are… It’s the Iranians and their proxies who are doing a bulk of the fighting inside Syria,” he told Foreign Policy.

The likelihood of the deal working on the ground was also questioned by Iranian officials. Bahram Qasemi, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that the deal contained “ambiguities” and that “no agreement would be successful without taking the realities on the ground into account” before adding: “Iran is seeking Syria’s sovereignty and security so a ceasefire cannot be limited to a certain location”.