Russian envoy reports Iranian and Shi’ite forces in southwest Syria to withdraw 85 kilometers from Golan Heights, claims “heavy equipment and weapons” posing a threat to Israel from southwest removed; Some “Iranian advisors” to remain with Syrian army.
Russia announced on Wednesday that Iranian and Shi’ite forces have begun to withdraw up to 85 kilometers away from Israel’s borders in southwest Syria.
Russia’s Special Envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, made the announcement following reports that Iranian forces started to pull out from southwest Syria on Wednesday morning. He confirmed Wednesday afternoon that “The Iranians withdrew and the Shi’ite formation are not there.” He did report, however, that “Iranian advisors”, a term used by Russia, Iran and Syria in reference to Iranian advisors and military forces, would remain amongst Syrian army forces.
The envoy also claimed heavy equipment and weapons that could “pose a threat to Israel at a distant of 85 km from the line of demarcation” were removed.
These developments follow Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov’s claims on Monday that Israel’s demands for the removal of Iranian forces from up to 100 kilometers from Israel’s border were “non-realistic”. The ambassador defended Iranian forces assisting the Syrian army, claiming that forces are currently playing a “very, very important role in our common and joint effort to eliminate terrorists in Syria”.
Assad’s regime regained control of southwest Syria from Islamic State militants on Monday after the Islamic State affiliated “Khaled bin Al-Waleed Army” surrendered to the Syrian army. It is the first time the Syrian army has controlled the frontier on Israel’s border in seven years.
The IDF has been clear that it will not allow the entrenchment of Iran and its proxies in Syria and that Assad’s regime would be held accountable for any threats, attacks or spillover on Israel.
The IDF has carried out numerous missions in Syria, thwarting weapons transfers to Hezbollah, chemical weapons sites and dozens of threats against Israel. Last Tuesday, the IDF shot down a Syrian fighter jet that entered Israeli airspace. Prior, Israeli airstrikes were reported on Iranian-Syrian chemical weapons and missile production facility in Masyaf, Syria.
Be sure this week’s Middle East Current Events Update where Amir spoke about developments in Syria and the region.
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