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Israel signals free hand in Syria as US, Russia expand truce

US says Russia to keep Iranian-linked forces from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
A F-16 of the Israeli air force seen on June 16, 2008 during a training excercise [Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway /Wikipedia]
A F-16 of the Israeli air force seen on June 16, 2008 during a training excercise [Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway /Wikipedia]

Israel signalled on Sunday that it would keep up military strikes across its frontier with Syria to prevent any encroachment by Iranian-allied forces, even as the United States and Russia try to build up a ceasefire in the area.

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday affirmed joint efforts to stabilise Syria as its civil war wanes, including with the expansion of a July 7 truce in the southwestern triangle bordering Israel and Jordan.

A US State Department official said Russia had agreed “to work with the Syrian regime to remove Iranian-backed forces a defined distance” from the Golan Heights frontier with Israel, which captured the plateau in the 1967 Middle East war.

Moscow did not immediately provide details on the deal.

Israel has been lobbying both big powers to deny Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other Shia militias any permanent bases in Syria, and to keep them away from the Golan, as they gain ground while helping Damascus beat back Sunni-led rebels.

In televised remarks opening Israel’s weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not speak about the new US-Russian arrangement for Syria.

His regional cooperation minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, sounded circumspect about the deal, telling reporters that it “does not meet Israel’s unequivocal demand the there will not be developments that bring the forces of Hezbollah or Iran to the Israel-Syria border in the north”.

Read: IDF ready to protect Druze town from Syrian rebels

“Red Lines”

“There’s reflection here of the understanding that Israel has set red lines, and will stand firm on this,” Hanegbi said.

That was an allusion to Israeli military strikes in Syria, carried out against suspected Hezbollah or Iranian arms depots or in retaliation for attacks from the Syrian-held Golan.

In the latest incident, the Israeli military said it shot down a spy drone on Saturday as it overflew the Golan. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman blamed the drone on the Syrian government. Damascus did not immediately respond.

Repeating Israel’s warnings to Iran and Hezbollah, Lieberman said:

We will not allow the Shia axis to establish Syria as its forefront base

Russia, which has a long-term military garrison in Syria, has said it wants foreign forces to quit the country eventually.

The US State Department official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity on Saturday, said that goal could be served by Russia’s pledge to remove Iranian-linked fighters from the truce zone in southwestern Syria.

“If this works, this is an auspicious signal, would be an auspicious signal, that our policy objective – the objective that I think so many of us share, of getting these guys out of Syria ultimately – that there’s a path in that direction,” the official said.

Asa Winstanley: Israel’s new occupation zone in Syria

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Asia & AmericasEurope & RussiaIranIsraelMiddle EastNewsRussiaSyriaUS
  • Vinegar Hill

    Typical of the rogue, non-democratic state of Israel to attempt to deny Iran a base in Syria when only a couple of weeks ago it celebrated the joint Israel-American air base in Israeli soil.
    The evil, warmongering machinations of Israel are a major cause of war and bloodshed in the Middle East.

    • Watchman for Truth

      Absolutely agree with you 1000%. These fake Jew non Semitic egoistic parasitic demons are just instigating for a major conflict with Russia, China and Iran. Wipe the arrogant parasites off the face of this earth.

  • David Adams

    Who is currently in violation of International Law and the Geneva Convention ?
    IT’S ISRAEL

    ISRAEL’S CURRENT LAW VIOLATIONS

    ISRAELI OCCUPATION IS ILLEGAL:
    Laws Violated: U.N. Charter, Article 2(4) & 51 (1945); Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations…, Principle 1(1970).

    ILLEGAL ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS ON OCCUPIED LAND:
    Laws Violated: Geneva Conventions IV, Article 49(6) (1949). It is illegal to colonize occupied land or transfer non-indigenous population to that
    land.

    ILLEGAL TO TAKE LAND BY FORCE & CLAIM SOVEREIGNTY:
    Laws Violated: U.N. Charter, Article 2(4) (1945); Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations…, Principle 1(1970).

    ILLEGAL ISRAELI PRACTICE OF ETHNIC CLEANSING:
    Laws Violated: Forbidding civilian populations the right to return to their homes following the end of armed conflict is in direct violation ofinternational law and UN resolutions. Geneva Convention IV, Articles 45, 46 & 49 (1949), UN resolutions 194 (III) (General Assembly; 1948) &237 (Security Council; 1967).

    ISRAELI APARTHEID SYSTEM IS ILLEGAL:
    Laws Violated: International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1976).

    MASSIVE VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS (HR):
    Laws Violated: U.N. Charter, Article 1 (1945); Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations…, Principle 5 (1970).

    COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT IS ILLEGAL:
    Laws Violated: Geneva Conventions IV, Article 33 (1949); Geneva Conventions (Protocol I), Article 75(2d) (1977).

    ILLEGAL MASSIVE TRANSFORMATION OF LOCAL LAWS:
    Laws Violated: Hague Regulations IV, Article 43 (1907).

    VIOLATIONS OF U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS:
    Laws Violated: Israel has violated 28 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (which are legally binding on member-nations U.N.
    Charter, Article 25 (1945); a few sample resolutions – 54, 111, 233, 234, 236, 248, 250, 252, 256, 262, 267, 270, 280, 285, 298, 313, 316, 468, 476,etc.

    SEPARATION BARRIER RULED ILLEGAL

  • David Adams

    “We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces”
    – Benjamin Netanyahu

    This statement while designed to sound like a defensive measure is actually an admission of a premeditated war crime. No foreign country can use the threat of force to blackmail its neighbours or anyone else when it comes to internal affairs.

    If Syria invites Iran to establish some sort of permanent presence in the country, that is a matter which is strictly between Syria and Iran. To use this as a pretext for an act of war, is put simply, a war crime.