Israel may launch more strikes on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces if they continue their advance into the demilitarized zone in Southwestern Syria near the Golan, according to a report from Reuters.
The Syrian armed forces are chasing rebels withdrawing from the Daraa region after Assad launched an assault against the area last month with support from Russia. As a result of the offensive, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) fortified their positions in the Golan with additional troops and armor.
The Golan region was occupied by Israel in 1967 during the Six-Day War. In 1974 after the Yom Kippur War, Israel and Syria signed the Agreement on Disengagement, which established demilitarized “buffer zones” on each side of the border. However, according to a March 2018 report from U.N. Disengagement and Observer Force (UNDOF), both Syria and Israel violated the terms of the 1974 agreement. This included the positions manned by Syrian Army soldiers, as well as Israeli mortar positions and anti-missile weapons.
“We must verify and do everything to clarify, vis-a-vis the Russians, the Assad government, that we will not accept any armed presence by the Assad regime in the areas which are meant to be demilitarized,” said Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in a statement on Ynetnews.com.
Erdan also stated that Israel was prepared to take military action and mentioned the strikes against Syrian military positions earlier this year.
“Here, too, if there is a violation, and certainly in the southern Syrian region which is close to the citizens of the State of Israel, and a bringing of weaponry that should not be there, Israel will take action,” Erdan said.
Next week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and is likely to seek Russian assistance in pulling Assad back from the region. According to Reuters, Netanyahu called on Syria to honor the 1974 armistice.