Mideast Daily News

Israel Rejects New Ceasefire Deal For Southern Syria

By Charles Bybelezer | The Media Line

November 13, 2017

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Israeli officialdom poured cold water on a reported ceasefire deal for southern Syria brokered by the United States, Russia and Jordan, stressing that the terms of the truce do not meet the demands of Jerusalem which will therefore not be bound to the accord. Announced over the weekend, the agreement calls for “the reduction and ultimate elimination” of foreign fighters from the border region in the Syrian Golan Heights, including Iranian proxies warring on behalf of the Assad regime. Israel has long stressed that it will not tolerate any permanent Iranian military presence in Syria and has pressed Moscow to create a buffer zone of approximately 50 kilometers along the shared frontier that would be devoid of Hizbullah operatives and associated Shiite groups. However, it is not believed that the prospective no-go zone will be anywhere close to the requested size, while Syrian regime forces will be allowed to continue operating there. In a move being construed as a rebuke of Russia’s role in facilitating the latest truce, Israel on Sunday endorsed a UN watchdog report on Syria’s use of chemical weapons, saying it “unequivocally” proves Assad used poison gas and as such must be punished by the international community. In the past, Jerusalem had stayed mum on the subject given its dependence on Moscow, which has effectively become the major player in Syria following its intervention in the conflict in September 2015. News of the ceasefire deal came after the BBC published satellite photos purportedly showing the construction of an Iranian military base in Al-Kiswah, located just 14 kilometers south of Damascus. Israel has repeatedly conducted air strikes in both Lebanese and Syrian air space targeting such installations as well as arms convoys destined for Hizbullah.

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