update desk

Iranian and Hezbollah forces are reportedly withdrawing from southern Syria

According to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, outside forces are in the process of withdrawing from the southern Syria regions of Daraa and Quneitra, adjacent to Israel’s Golan Heights.

An Israeli soldier patrols near the Israel-Syria border in the Golan Heights. Credit: IDF.
An Israeli soldier patrols near the Israel-Syria border in the Golan Heights. Credit: IDF.

A Syrian war monitor group has reported that Iranian and Hezbollah forces are withdrawing from southern Syria near the Israeli border.

According to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Iranian and Hezbollah forces are in the process of withdrawing from the southern Syria regions of Daraa and Quneitra, adjacent to Israel’s Golan Heights.

“Preparations by the Iranian Forces and Forces of the Lebanese Hezbollah and militias operating under the command of the Iranian Forces; to withdraw from both provinces and from the lines near the border with the Occupied Syrian Golan,” the report said.

The purported new development comes amid a number of reports this week of talks among Israel, the United States and Russia over the security situation there. Israel has long been concerned about the Iranian buildup in Syria. Earlier this month, it launched its largest attack in Syria in decades when it destroyed some 50 Iranian targets in response to Iranian rockets being fired on the Golan Heights.

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the security situation in southern Syria and the withdrawal of Iranian forces. Netanyahu also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, where the two discussed “regional developments and the Iranian presence in Syria,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that the Syrian army should be the only force in the southern part of the country.

“All the forces that are not Syrian should withdraw, and there must be a situation in which only the forces of the Syrian army will be stationed on the Syrian side of the border with Israel,” he said.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoygu, on Thursday to discuss ongoing security cooperation between the two countries.

“Dialogue and an open line between the Israeli and Russian armies are important to preserve,” said Lieberman. “The State of Israel also appreciates Russia’s understanding of our security needs.”

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