Aug. 15, 2019
- The Syrian regime is still fighting for its survival, a situation that demands the ongoing military involvement of Iran and Russia in the long process of consolidation. Since the beginning of its intervention in Syria, Iran has seen the conflict as an opportunity to take over the country. Accordingly, Iran threw into the battle its foreign legions (Lebanese Hizbullah, Iraqi, Afghani, and Pakistani formations) together with a corps of Iranian officers belonging to the Al-Quds Division under the command of Qasem Suleimani.
- Hizbullah commands five Shiite militias in the Golan area, each numbering several thousand fighters, and has been busy preparing a military option against Israel. Moscow brokered an arrangement with Tehran according to which Iran would remove its proxies from within 80 km. of the Israeli border and Russia would deploy checkpoints to serve as a buffer.
- However, due to infiltration, Hizbullah and pro-Iranian proxy checkpoints have been erected almost adjacent to the Russian checkpoints. This has led to friction between the Russians and the pro-Iranian proxies. Furthermore, local leaders supported by Russia and local chiefs of pro-Iranian militias have been conducting mutual targeted killings.
- Pro-Iranian proxies camouflaged in Syrian army uniforms and waving the Syrian flag have attempted to establish checkpoints and deploy Hizbullah and Revolutionary Guards elements in the vicinity of the Jordanian-Israeli-Syrian border area (the Yarmouk basin).
- Elements belonging to the Russian Fifth Corps, together with the Russian Military Police responsible for operating the checkpoints, have waged armed attacks to dislodge them. Furthermore, the Russians established a local armed militia to defend the border towns adjacent to the Jordanian border.
- Iran and its proxies with Hizbullah leadership have succeeded in infiltrating the Syrian Golan area and creating a fait accompli Israel cannot ignore. Iranian proxies are present at the very doorstep of the Israeli Golan, but still undercover and in modest formations.
Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah was former Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira served as Military Secretary to the Prime Minister. Both are fellows of the Jerusalem Center.