The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Syrian regime, Hizballah advance near border with Israel Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

Syrian regime, Hizballah advance near border with Israel

Hizballah is getting too close for comfort for Israel [AFP file-photo]

Date of publication: 25 December, 2017

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Syrian regime and Hizballah are advancing near the southern borders with Lebanon and Israel, pushing towards rebels holding out in a strategic area amid Israeli concerns of expanding Iranian influence

Syrian regime and Hizballah are advancing near the southern borders with Lebanon and Israel, pushing towards rebels holding out in a strategic area amid Israeli concerns of expanding Iranian influence.

The army and Iranian-backed Shia militias led by Hizballah advanced east and south of the Sunni-rebel held bastion of Beit Jin backed by aerial bombing and heavy artillery shelling, rebels told Reuters.

The enclave is the last rebel bastion left in the south west of Damascus known as the Western Ghouta that had since last year fallen under government control after months of heavy bombing on civilian areas and years of siege tactics that forced rebels to surrender.

A western intelligence source confirmed to Reuters rebel reports that Iranian-backed militias including the powerful Lebanese Hizballah group were playing a major role in the ongoing battles.

“The Iranian backed militias are trying to consolidate their sphere of influence all the way from southwest of Damascus to the Israeli border,” Suhaib al Ruhail, an official from the Liwa al Furqan rebel group that operates in the area, told Reuters.

Worried by Iran’s expanding influence in Syria after the defeat of Islamic State, Israel has in the last few weeks stepped up strikes against suspected Iranian targets inside Syria.

Early this month an Israeli strike on a base near Kiswah, south of Damascus was widely believed to be an Iranian military compound, according to a Western intelligence source

According to Reuters, Israel has been lobbying both big powers to deny Iran, Lebanon’s Hizballah any permanent bases in Syria, and to keep them away from the Golan, as they gain ground while helping Damascus beat back Sunni-led rebels.

Western diplomatic sources told Reuters the crushing of the Sunni rebel presence in areas they have been in since 2013 will allow Lebanon’s Hizballah to open another secure arms supply line from its border in southern Lebanon into Syria.

Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, Iran has had a growing presence in the country, deploying thousands of Shia fighters who have fought against both mainstream Sunni rebel groups and more militant groups.

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More