JERUSALEM – Israel threatened a “harsh response” on Monday to any attempt by Syrian forces advancing against southern rebel areas to deploy in a Golan Heights frontier zone that was demilitarised under a 44-year-old UN-monitored truce between the neighbouring foes.

With the Syrian government forces backed by Russia, they have launched an offensive in the southern Deraa province, many expect them to widely move on rebel-held Quneitra, which is within a part of the Syrian Golan covered by the armistice.

Israel intervened to protect their borders, they worry that the Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad could let its enemies Iran and Hezbollah move forces into the area, giving them a upper hand near its border. Both Tehran and the Lebanese groups have backed Assad in the complex conflict.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman told his parliamentary faction in broadcast remarks, “For our part we will sanctify the 1974 disengagement agreement, and there too we will insist that every last letter be abided by, and any violation with meet a harsh response from the State of Israel.”

Talks in Moscow are due to take place on Wednesday, where Assad’s conduct in southern Syria is expected to be discussed between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After Russia’s 2015 intervention in the Syrian civil war, it turned the tide in Assad’s favour, Russia has largely turned a blind eye to repeated Israeli air strikes in Syria targeting suspected Iranian or Hezbollah emplacements and arms transfers.

But diplomats from Iran and Lebanon say Russia has made clear that it would oppose any Israeli action endangering Assad’s rule.

Photo Credit- EWN

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