Given the ecstatic jubilation over the “ceasefire deal” brokered between Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the G20 these sorts of violations that have been growing in the descalation zones have esentially deemed the ceasefire deal to be at the most a PR stunt if not rendered pointless.
With Al-Baath under attack by regime and Iranian forces, which is only 2 km away from Israel’s Golan the infractions are far more serious.
Is the Regime Goading Israel into Attacking?
One possible strategy is for the regime to blame Israel for breaking the ceasefire. If the regime continues to advance in towards the Israeli border in the Golan, the Israelis would have no choice but to resume attacking regime military targets as they were doing last week.
Any counter-attack by Israel to sure up their FSA allies will run into the growing presence of Russian military police. The ceasefire has essentially be flipped to place US allies in the region on the defensive. This will continue until the Trump administration is able extricate itself from the already collapsing ceasefire.
“The plane was shot down and crashed in regime-controlled territory. We have no information on the pilot,” said Fares al-Munjed, communications head for the Ahmad al-Abdo Forces, a rebel group which operates in Syria’s southeast.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the plane was shot down.
In further violations of the truce, regime forces have continued to shoot in Daraa.
Although Russia seems intent on sending military police into the ceasefire areas, by the time they get situated the ceasefire may already be over. From the very beginning the regime and Iran were apprehensive about the ceasefire as the two have been on a roll. With the rebels fighting back, the ceasefire is essentially over.
Enemies make great friends when interests converge.
Turkey has announced the imminent launch of a serious military operation in the Afrin district of Northern Syria to wipe out the Kurdish militias in the area.
Pro Syrian news sources have reported that Turkish backed Free Syrian Army rebels have defected to the Syrian regime army to fight the Kurds. Although it is hard to tell if this is an isolated event, the fact that Turkey inked a deal to buy the Russia S-400 anti-aircraft system shows how the once formidable ememies have come together against a common foe, the US and its Sunni Arab Alliance.
The Kurds have long played both sides, but recently the Trump administration have gone out of its way to court the Syrian Kurdish militas (YPG) and merged them with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The combination of moderate Syrian Arabs with elite Kurdish militias have proved pivotal in fighting the Islamic State.
With the coopting of the Northern wing of the FSA, which as opposed to its Southern wing is highly staffed by Turkish elements, the Kurds will have to contend with an Erdogan emboldened by Russian backing and a rebel force that is willing to fight to death to drive the Kurds back from their positions.
Israel and America Must Take a Stand
With the Kurdish army in Syria on the line, Israel and America must take a stand and stop the coming Turkish onlaught from decimating the one fighting force that has proven successful against Jihadist and stablizing for a post Assad Syria. If the Kurds fall in the North it will be another setback for America, Israel, and their Sunni Arab allies. Worst of all it would be just one more of a long list of American let downs in helping the truly indigenous Kurds finally reclaim their ancient homeland.
Syria and Hezbollah are reporting that they have successfully cleaned Al-Baath city from rebel and Jihadi forces. Al-Baath has been the target of intense fighting between rebel and regime forces for over a week. The city is strategic for its location closer to the Damascus-Daraa road which has been the main supply line for the regime forces fighting against Free Syrian Army associated militias in Daraa.
Al-Baath itself, is the headquarters for the Iranian and Hezbollah contingents in Western Syria. The city’s fall gives the regime and its Iranian ally direct access to the Quneitra province. It also forces the Israeli government into a bit of a quandary. Up until the Israeli army has opted for using retaliation strikes against the regime as a way of tacitly aiding the rebels as well as offering humanitarian aid. It has worked until now. With Syria and Iran now able to move within the Israeli buffer zone around the Golan, Prime Minister Netanyahu will be forced to decide whether to enter the Syrian Civil War directly or allow the Shiite juggernaut to take up positions on the Israeli border.
With all the talk and excitement of the arrival of the USS H.W. Bush Aircraft carrier at the port in Haifa, an ominous battle keeps moving closer to Israel’s Eastern border.
For the second time in one hour mortars from a battle between Syrian regime forces and rebel militia has hit the Israeli Golan. On Friday the IDF retaliated again for a stray mortar. With two mortars hitting Israel, the IDF will have no choice but to hit back.
Due to the rebel (FSA and Jihadi Forces) continued assault of Al-Baath, the location of the forward Iranian base in South-West Syria, the IDF will again use the opportunity to attack Assad’s forces.
The initial assault began just over a week ago, but has stalled in its goal of taking Al-Baath and splitting the regime’s control over the Damascs-Daraa highway. The Syrian regime forces and their Iranian allies have brough the battle close to the Israeli border, in fact 3 kilometers away.
According to the Syrian regime there are still Israeli drones flying over al-Baath and seemingly posted there for a follow up attack.
Given the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu has insisted that Israel won’t allow Syrian and Iranian troops to take up positions on the Golan border, Israel may have not choice but to step up attacks with or without continued provocation.
Prime Minister Netanyahu travelled to Katzrin yesterday, the capital of the Golan to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the renewed city.
Netanyahu said the following about the shelling that occurred in the area just a day before:
“We are here celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Katzrin, the capital of the Golan Heights. I said that we will not tolerate spillover and that we will respond to every firing. During my speech, shells from the Syrian side landed in our territory, and the IDF has already struck back. Whoever attacks us – we will attack him. This is our policy and we will continue with it.”
The IDF has responded with attacks against Syrian regime forces whenever there has been spillover from the battles the FSA, ISIS, and Assad and his allies are fighting.
Last week, FSA related militias tacitly backed by Israel launched a major offensive against regime forces. Israel used the spillover to target Assad’s soldiers and weaponry.
The command of rebel forces in Quneitra, East of the Israeli Golan published an infographics presentation where the group summarized the losses the Syrian regime army and its Iranian allies incurred during the last five days of fighting in the region.
As Israel Rising noted earlier in the week, the Free Syrian Army Quneitra division, which is tacitly supported by Israel, launched a major offensive against the Assad regime to free the Damascus-Daraa highway from regime control. The attack began on Saturday afternoon, during which their forces moved towards the town of ‘Ibay, where military centers and command facilities of the Iranians and Hezbollah are located.
During the offensive, they managed to capture parts of the city but later retreated.
This offensive and subsequent battles are still underway. The Israeli airforce has aided the rebels from time to time using retaliations for the spillover fromt he battles to hit regime forces that are fighting.
At ten last night a rocmet from Syria hit Israeli territory in the Golan. The IDF reported no injuries. The attack wrecked the short calm in attacks from Syria.
The question in military circles is whether the IDF will use this spillover to attack Syrian regime forces like before. The Israeli backed Syrian militias known as the FSA is in the middle of a huge operation to free the Damascus-Daraa road from regime and Iranian forces.
Israel has been lightly aiding the FSA with attacks when hit first by stray rockets.
The Arabic-language Sky News network is reporting the bombing of an unidentified aircraft apparently belonging to the Northern Alliance, which was in northern Jordan killed the commander of Daesh (ISIS) Quneitra.
The head of Daesh Quneitra had not even been its leader for a month before he was killed by the bombing this evening.
His predecessor, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi was killed along with a large number of senior local commanders.
The name of today’s commander is sort of a mystery. Some people say it was Abu Hashem al-Rifai Abu Hashem al-Rifai. Others say it was Abu Hashim al-Askari al-Darawi. Either way, Daesh Quneitra has suffered another setback.
Impact on Israel
There had been a lot of rumors once Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi was killed that it was the Israeli airforce that carried out the hit in the beginning of Ramadan. In truth, Israel has been very involved for a while, on one hand supporting the FSA rebels against Assad and on the other hand trying to remove ISIS.
Weakening ISIS along its border is a top priority for the Israeli government, yet they can’t do it alone as they need to focus on holding Syria and Iran back. The dangerous balance between destroying ISIS and supporting anti-regime forces is key in trying to secure the Golan border.
The Northern Alliance aircraft was most likely American. This would indicate a division of labor between the US and Israel. With the Americans focusing on ISIS in the South, Israel can better position itself to help the FSA break the supply route between Damascus and Daraa.
While this is a good short-term development, notifying the end to what seemed to be an acute situation on the Syrian border, the message should be taken very superficially. The spillover into the Israeli side of the Golan was certainly nerve-wracking for the residents of Northern Israel, yet the fact that the IDF took great pains to focus their return fire on the Syrian regime should be a warning on just how close regime forces and their Iranian allies have come to once again claiming the Golan border.
The retaliation by the IDF against the Syrian regime in many ways goes far beyond the scope of Israel’s claimed focus of their relationship to the many sides in the Syrian civil war.
It is no accident that the IDF retaliated heavily on regime positions at the same moment the FSA was leading and offensive to cut through the road leading from Damascus to Daraa. The regime forces of Assad and his Iranian allies have yet to fully crush the resistance in Daraa and so the FSA was trying to break their supply lines.
For the first time Israel was willing to show Syria some of their hand in order to relay a message. “Quneitra is off-limits.” The Quneitra based division of the FSA is more and more becoming aligned with Israel. What started out as simple humanitarian gestures have morphed into an Israeli backed rebel militia.
With Hezbollah stationed oppositie Har Dov and routinely coming close to the base there, Israel can ill-afford to have the Syrian regime and Iran take up positions opposite the Eastern border of the Golan.
As the Trump administration weighs its next move against the Syrian regime, Israel is moving fast to push back againstAssad’s forces without fully entering the civil war.