Israel Will Not Tolerate Even One Syrian Soldier on Border, Defense Minister Warns

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman says Israel will hold the Syrian regime responsible for terror infrastructure in the Syrian Golan Heights

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman during a visit at the Israel-Syria border in the Golan Heights, July 10, 2018

Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that Israel will not stand the presence of even one Syrian soldier in the buffer zone on the Israel-Syria border, and will hold the Assad regime responsible for any terror infrastructure in the Syrian Golan Heights.

"This attempt to establish terror infrastructure in the Syrian Golan Heights under the regime's purview is unacceptable to us," Lieberman added. "We will operate with full power against any terrorist infrastructure we identify in the area."

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Assad forces have been advancing in southern Syria since the offensive was launched on June 19.

Haaretz's Amos Harel wrote on Monday that Israel has come to terms with the return of the Assad regime to its border, and does not intend to intervene on behalf of the local rebel militias operating in the villages not far from the border with Israel's Golan Heights. Israel remains focused on its declared interest: expelling the Iranians and their militias from all Syrian territory – particularly in the south.

On Tuesday, as he toured the Syrian border in the Golan Heights, Lieberman added: "As far as we are concerned, the Syrian regime is responsible and it will pay a heavy price for cooperating with the axis powers [Iran and Hezbollah] and for trying to set up terror structures here." 

Lieberman said that any Syrian soldier found in the buffer zone between Syria and Israel is taking his life into his own hands. Iranian presence in Syria, Lieberman continued, "is unacceptable for Israel and we will operate against any Iranian entrenchment in Syria."

The defense minister added that Israel will continue providing humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees but will not take even one refugee into Israeli territory.