Syria Daily: Israel Accepts Pro-Assad Takeover of South

Pro-Assad forces in al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya, Daraa Province, Syria, June 30, 2018 (SANA)

UPDATE 1230 GMT: The Syrian Network for Human Rights summarizes that 214 people have been killed and about 198,000 displaced by the pro-Assad attacks and Russian airstrikes across Daraa Province between June 15 and June 30.

The fatalities include 65 children and 43 women. Russian and pro-Assad forces have used 258 surface-to-surface rockets, 293 artillery shells, and at least 397 barrel bombs.


Israel has indicated its acceptance of the recapture of southern Syria by pro-Assad forces, including foreign militias and enabled by Russian airstrikes.

For weeks before the pro-Assad offensive began on June 19, Israel had warned that it might intervene if Hezbollah and/or Iranian-supported fighters were involved. After talks with the Israelis, Russia publicly called for “non-Syrian forces” to leave Daraa and Quneitra Provinces, near the Jordanian border and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

In the past 13 days, the pro-Assad air and ground assault has reoccupied some towns and forced the surrender of others in both eastern and western Daraa Province. Photographs have indicated the presence of an Iranian-led Iraqi militia among the pro-Assad forces.

See Syria Daily, July 1: Southern Rebels Break Off Surrender Talks

At the start of Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set out a firm posture:

We will continue to defend our borders. We will extend humanitarian assistance to the extent of our abilities. We will not allow entry into our territory and we will demand that the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement with the Syrian army be strictly upheld.

But Netanyahu’s statement was notable for its omissions. He made no reference to the precondition over non-Syrian forces. He offered no assistance to Syria’s rebels as they face capitulation, and he implicitly reinforced the Israeli military’s assurance that none of the 160,000 people displaced from Daraa Province will be allowed into Israeli-controlled territory.

Instead, the Prime Minister’s reference to the Separation of Forces agreement indicated that Israel’s priority will be the exclusion of any Assad regime forces from the demilitarized zone near the Golan Heights.

The Israeli army moved tanks and artillery cannons to the border of the zone on Sunday morning, and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman reportedly will ask Russia to enforce that Bashar al-Assad observes the limits on his personnel.

Unconfirmed claims in US and Israeli media said Israel is asking for a zone of 60 to 80 km (37 to 50 miles) from the border in which there will be no Iranian or Iranian-supported forces. However, there is no sign that the Assad regime will accept the condition and — given the violation of Daraa’s de-escalation zone by both the regime and Russia — that any line of exclusion will be observed.

During the pro-Assad offensive, the Israeli Government has focused on portraying its humanitarian assistance to the displaced, estimated at about 50,000, who have gathered on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Last week, the Israel Defense Forces announced it had delivered several tons of aid including food, clothes, and medicine to those in hastily-erected camps.

On Friday night, six injured Syrians, four of them children orphaned in Russian-regime attacks, were admitted to Israeli hospital.

But the IDF made clear over the weekend that it did not expect any attempt by the displaced to cross into the Israeli area of the Golan, reinforcing its position that the crossings will not be permitted.

Surrender Talks Resume

Surrender talks resumed between rebels and Russian officials on Sunday, a day after rebels stepped out over the failure of terms on security if the Assad regime reoccupies opposition areas.

The talks, mediated by Jordan, were renewed in Busra al-Sham, a historic town on the Jordanian border.

Pro-Assad accounts put out unconfirmed claims of a local capitulation agreement for Busra al-Sham, held by the opposition since 2015, with rebels handing over heavy weapons.

Rebels had been seeking oversight by Russian military force, with no Assad regime military personnel or police, if they surrendered. After the collapse of talks on Saturday, Russia and the Assad regime resumed bombardment.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

25 COMMENTS

  1. “Qalaat Al Mudiq
    ‏ @QalaatAlMudiq
    6m6 minutes ago

    #Syria: #Khmeimim Airbase was targeted for the 2nd consecutive night by “suicide” drones, reportedly shot down by #Russia’s Air Defenses.”
    .
    Looks like the drones need to be programmed to fly a bit lower in order to avoid being picked up by radar. If they are not picked up until the last few seconds the air defence will not have time to operate effectively. Also using large numbers of drones in one single go will overload the air defence system. Two separate attacks within 24 hours is probably not the best strategy.

    • You’re dreaming of tech that doesn’t exist – at least not tech the US would be handing over to rebels.

      1. Drones are independently controlled, which means you need one operator for each unit. That rules out flying enough drones to overwhelm defenses. Swarming technology is still new and would require AI to control flocking behavior and provide collision detection between drones. Sensors on drones would have to be very sophisticated to avoid collision between each drone as they are all moving rapidly and chaotically relative to one another.

      2. Dones have limited range, especially when carrying a heavy payload like a bomb.

      3. The control frequencies that drones operate in are well known. Drones are noisy and can be easily detected – especially a swarm of them.

      4. The main problem is that this kind of attack relies on the element of surprise and the rebels no longer have it. The Russians are prepared for such attacks. They also have jamming technology to down the drones before they get within harms distance. Jamming drones is pretty trivial.

  2. Maybe Bill its better you wait for a more competent point of view. Andre, like mostly anything else, is probably the last person on earth you would want some military tech advice……the famous cardboard box dummy exchanged for an M1A1….the famous and notorious Hezb militia as the 4th or 5th army in the world and similar bs that i have all noted down. Hence his Comical Ali name…….

    • Thanks caligola for your support but as qualified electronics engineer with over ten years experience in radar plus military and aerospace experience I am confident that I have adequate knowledge to generally understand the technical aspects of what is involved with these drones. Uneducated comments from a St Petersburg troll are like water off a ducks back to me. If I had known how long this butchering was going to last and what direction the technology was heading, I would have offered the FSA my services years ago. Now, I am afraid that it is too late and the world will just watch as the remaining rebels and many civilians are exterminated by the axis of evil. Civilisation is nearly dead because the free world has neglected their responsibility. Obama and Trump are the ones that have let this happen! The St Petersburg trolls have repeatedly lied and argued to cover up Assad and Putin’s crimes against humanity and helped to make it happen!!

    • .the famous and notorious Hezb militia as the 4th or 5th army in the world and similar bs that i have all noted down. Hence his Comical Ali name……

      That was the analysis given by an Israeli General Benny Gantz who says Hezbollah is far an away the most powerful army in the Arab world in it’s own regard and that the US, Russia, China, Israel, France, and England are the only states with more firepower.

      Hezbollah is stronger than most world armies: Israel’s military chief

      Comments from Israeli army’s chief-of-staff place Hezbollah’s ‘military might’ just beneath the US, China, Russia, Israel, France and the UK
      http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/103297/World/Region/Hezbollah-is-stronger-than-most-world-armies-Israe.aspx

      • BTW. How does the claims by Israel’s military chief sqaure with your repeated claims that the Israek set Hezbollah’s military capability back 20 years in 2006? Unless of course, you are suggesting that prior to 2006, Hezbollah were the 2nd or 3rr most powerful army in the world 🙂

            • Andre,

              If you are relying on the Gantz quote as your sole source for claim, you should consider the context in which he was making statement, especially the propaganda objective.

              S.

              • That’s a fair point Scott, but then that would also render any statement or claim by an official meaningless wouldn’t it?

                Gantz has a track record of level headedness. While those around him were hyping Iran’s nuclear threat, he was one of the few who stood firm and insisted that Iran had not even decided to pursue a nuke

                So what would you say the Gantz’s propaganda objective might be? The rest of the article is hardly controversial.

                The fact is that Israel’s own military experts have repeatedly admitted they have no means of defeating Hezbollah.
                https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-lebanon/israel-cant-defeat-hezbollah-israeli-expert-idUSTRE6BF20L20101216

                https://english.al-akhbar.com/node/17293

              • No, it means evaluating and thus understanding an official statement, rather than flinging it out because it backs a preferred line which may be shallow or misleading.

              • The process of evaluation is itself open to interpretation and bias. No one can claim to be objective.

                The article I cited gives no indication as to what agenda Gantz might have had, so it would appear you’er trying to cast doubt on its legitimacy for whatever reason you might have.

              • Actually, the article does indicate Gantz’s agenda — if you read it other than as a raft for your talking point.

                1. To whom is Gantz referring — Hezbollah or Iran and Hezbollah?
                2. Why might the Israeli military want to portray a large Iran-Hezbollah force?
                3. What was happening in relations between Israel and Iran at this point in 2014?

                Good luck.

              • Scott. Andre has no clue what propaganda is and how its used or better he perfectly knows when its 2 cents russian/assadists bullshit but for his interests he tends to not grasp others propaganda. The right in israel has always downplayed its force whilst overboosting the enemy. It serves for domestic and foreign use. But to belive hezb is the 4th or 5th army in the world (with no airforce lol) not even a toddler belives this bs.

              • Actually, the article does indicate Gantz’s agenda — if you read it other than as a raft for your talking point.

                Sounds like you are speculating about what does not actually appear in the article. And it’s not a talking point, it’s a quote. You seem reticent to articulate what this agenda might be.

                To whom is Gantz referring — Hezbollah or Iran and Hezbollah?

                Hezbollah, though of course Israel’s talking points always coin the reference to Hezbollah and Hamas being “Iran backed” for the purpose of delegitimizing their raidon d’etre. The only passing reference to Tehran is made with regard to Iran’s nuclear program.

                2. Why might the Israeli military want to portray a large Iran-Hezbollah force?

                Israel have always done so. They do the same with regard to the canard about being surrounded by hundreds of millions of Muslims who want to drive them into the sea – never mind that they have peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.

                3. What was happening in relations between Israel and Iran at this point in 2014?

                Same thing as before and after this point in 2014.

              • I see that you did not understand my points about analyzing Gantz’s line in the context of Israel’s political and military approach towards Iran and Hezbollah in 2014.

                Thus the difference between just simply reciting a line as your (only) support for a superficial claim and being able to evaluate a conflict shrewdly.

                So be it.

              • Scott,

                Anyone with basic reading skills would be aware that the right in Israel boasts about how they will lay waste to Lebanon in the next war and how they will not allow Iran to have nukes, which assumed capabilities beyond what they are capable of. Similar is the repeated declaration by Israel that they will not allow Iran to have any presence in Syria, which is an outcome they could not achieve without occupying all of Syria with boots on the ground.

                Even more absurd is his theory that Israel set back Hezbollah’s missile capabilities by 20 years in 2006. 12 year on, Hezbollah’s missile inventory has nearly quadrupled since then and the range, capability and power of those missiles are far greater. This suggests that he has abandoned logic and reason.

              • A key point that needs to be stressed is that unlike political leaders, Israeli military and Intelligence officials have a track record of issuing sober and restrained public statements. Unlike the political leaders, who seek to gain political capital by stoking public fear (and running on a platform of security), the military and Intelligence community are far more cautious and often contradict the alarmist claims made by the political leaders.

                A few examples:

                Yuval Diskin (Shin Bet) refuted that Iran were pursuing nukes.
                Take Pardo (head of Mossad) rejected the notion that even if they were nuclear armed, Iran constituted an “existential threat,”.
                Benny Gantz (head of IDF) as well as former head, Gabby Ashkenazi, both admitted that Iran had not decided to build a nuke.
                Meir Dagan (head of Mossad) not only denied Iran were pursuing nukes but argued that Iran’s leaders were rational actors.

                That’s just for starters.

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