Israeli Army Deploys Reinforcements Along Syrian Border as Fighting Intensifies

IDF commits to continue humanitarian aid for refugees ■ Netanyahu says Israel will not allow them entry

Syrian refugee tent encampment along the Israel-Syria border in the Golan Heights, June 29, 2018
Gil Eliyahu

Israel deployed artillery and armored reinforcements along the northern border with Syria on Sunday, according to Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Unit. The move is in light of a situation assessment by the security establishment's top brass.

>>Syrians fleeing Assad regime airstrikes reach Israeli border: 'It's the safest place to be'

The statement also stressed the IDF will continue its non-involvement principle regarding Syria, along with its policy to respond decisively against any infringement upon Israel's sovereignty and risking its citizens. Humanitarian aid to refugees approaching the border will also continue, the statement said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the situation in Syria during Sunday's government meeting, saying: "We will continue defending our borders, we will provide humanitarian aid as best as we can, we will not allow entry to our territories and demand strict adherence to the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement with the Syrian army."

Netanyahu added he is in constant contact with the White House and the Kremlin on the matter, as are Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot with their counterparts in the U.S. and Russia.

The stream of refugees fleeing the battlegrounds in southern Syria towards the borders with Jordan and Israel swelled last weekend, as their number grew to 160,000, according to the UN.

The IDF provided humanitarian aid to the tent encampments where the refugees are gathered in the Golan Heights, and has transferred some for medical care in Israel.

The security establishment is also monitoring developments and weighing their reprecussions. In talks between Eisenkot and his American counterpart, Joseph Dunford, the former clarified Israel expects the 1974 disengagement agreement to be preserved, and that Israel will not accept the presence of any force along the border other than the Syrian army, during the fighting and after its conclusion.

Opposition leaders in southern Syria reported Sunday morning that 60 civilians had been killed over the previous 24 hours by Syrian army bombardments and Russian airstrikes in the city of Daraa and surrounding villages and towns.

Medical personnel told Sky News in Arabic that women and children were among those killed. According to reports, the massive assaults were carried out in response to the refusal of the rebels to surrender in those places.