(JNS.org) Russia is reportedly in the midst of negotiations with Israel and Jordan to create safe zones in southern Syria that would shield Israel from an Iranian-led “Shi’ite corridor” developing on the Jewish state’s northern border.
Russian media reports state the negotiations were initiated following four recent U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on Syrian military targets in that area. The talks are focusing on creating zones for the respective militaries to operate on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, adjacent to Israel’s northern border.
Reports of the negotiations follow the firing of mortar shells from Syria into the Israeli Golan Heights last weekend, which prompted the IDF to respond with a retaliatory strike in Syria.
During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his strong opposition to Iranian forces and terror proxies—many equipped with Russian-made heavy artillery—operating in Syria, near northern Israel. Netanyahu has lobbied for a security zone along the Israel-Syria border as part of any future negotiated resolution to end the Syrian Civil War.
“Israel does not want a Shi’ite corridor,” Prof. Efraim Inbar, former director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, recently told JNS.org. “[Syrian President Bashar] Assad is an ally of Iran, so to some extent we would like the forces against Assad to keep the Iranians away, but the future of Syria is not in Israel’s hands. We are a small state, and our ability to influence events there is limited—very limited.”