The Israeli military says it does not expect the current fighting in southern Syria near the Golan Heights to spark a direct clash between the Israel Defense Forces and the Syrian army.
Israeli defense officials said that as far as Israel is concerned, President Bashar Assad’s forces must be the only ones to enter the conflict zone in southern Syria and the only force to take over after the fighting. The Israeli military does not intend to allow other forces and various militias to take control of the area or join together with the Syrian army.
Over the past few days, messages have been conveyed at senior levels as to Israel’s red lines regarding fighting near the border.
In a meeting between IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, all the scenarios were raised that Israel would not tolerate from the Syrian army or others operating in the area, such as Iran or Hezbollah.
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Israel made clear to all parties that it expects the 1974 cease-fire agreement to be kept and the demilitarized zone maintained free of military forces and heavy weaponry.
The general line is that there will be no compromises when it comes to maintaining the cease-fire agreement, and Israel expects the agreement to be maintained as it has been through the years since it was signed.
Israel has conveyed its position through the United States and Russia, to preserve Israel’s interests during the fighting.
Israel is also closely monitoring the situation to determine which forces are working for the Syrian regime.
Even now, the IDF has had to deal with implications arising from the fighting, such as refugees leaving population centers in fear of their lives. On Friday night, the IDF treated six moderately to seriously wounded Syrians, four of whom were small children. According to the IDF, Syrian reports indicate that the families of the wounded children were all killed in bombings, and the children were rushed for treatment at Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, and the Western Galilee Hospital, Nahariya.
Over the weekend, Israel sent humanitarian aid to refugee tent camps in the Syrian Golan Heights, including 300 tents, 13 tons of food, 15 tons of baby formula, three pallets of medical equipment and medicines, and 30 tons of clothing and shoes.
Meanwhile, Syrian state television and social media affiliated with the Assad regime have been broadcasting footage from villages on the eastern outskirts of the city of Daraa showing people waving photos of Assad and welcoming the Syrian army. According to an official Syrian source, agreements have been reached in those villages for the rebels to surrender or leave the area and for the army to enter without a fight.
In the city of Daraa and in some villages where agreements have not been reached, the Syrian army is continuing its bombardments with the assistance of the Russian air force. The rebels reportedly believe that the attacks are meant to pressure these areas into submission. In some of the areas, the Free Syrian Army is in control, and in others Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front, is in control. It is against these two groups that the main assaults are being directed. According to reports from the Syrian opposition, 15 people have been killed.
Talks between the rebels and Russia in an attempt to reach agreement in the Daraa area were suspended after the Free Syrian Army backed out of the negotiations.
Neither side has ruled out the possibility of continued talks, brokered by Jordan, which is seeking an end to the fighting to prevent a stream of refugees into its territory.
A Jordanian government spokesman said Saturday night that the government had begun sending humanitarian aid to refugees who had reached the border with Jordan.