Just a day after Russian FM Sergei Lavrov said that Iranian and allied forces should withdraw from the Southern Syria “soon,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported [Thursday] that Iran & Hezbollah are preparing to withdraw their troops from Syrian areas close to the Israeli border.
Iran and Hezbollah are preparing to withdraw troops from a southern Syria region close to the Israeli border after Russian intervention, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.
Citing “a number of reliable sources” the war monitor said that Iranian advisers and Hezbollah fighters will vacate from two provinces in the area of Daraa and Quneitra near to the Israeli party of the Golan Heights.
In the absence of Iranian forces, the monitor stated the Syrian regime forces will “continue to bring military reinforcements” to the vacated areas in preparation for an operation.
The report came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Iranian and allied forces should withdraw from the area “soon”.
The pullout has long been a demand of Israel, which is alarmed by the military presence of its chief nemesis so close to its northeastern border. Russia’s intervention in recent days has been interpreted as a win for Israel’s diplomatic efforts.
Only hours before the monitoring group’s report, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu held a meeting in Moscow during which the Russian expressed “understanding” for Israel’s security concerns on its northern border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also spoke by phone late Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli premier’s office said the two discussed Iran’s “military entrenchment” in Syria while the Kremlin said that a “Syrian settlement” was on the agenda.
The weeks prior to the meeting on Thursday saw Israel and Russia’s rhetoric increasingly converge vis-a-vis the curtailment of Iran’s growing military presence in Syria.
On Wednesday, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov appeared to deliver a statement closely-aligned with that of Netanyahu’s urging Iranian forces to quickly leave Syria’s southwestern corner.
“I think this should happen as soon as possible,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. He also referred to the agreement reached between Russia, the US and Jordan on the de-escalation zone that would see “all non-Syrian forces…withdrawn from the area.”
Russia and Iran are President Bashar Al-Assad’s chief ally in the country’s bitter civil war.
Both countries have supplied the regime with military personnel and equipment in their fight against a range of rebel groups.
Earlier this month Iran’s elite Quds Force launched a barrage of some 32 rockets into the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, prompting a massive Israeli air retaliation that Liberman said wiped out “most” of Iran’s military infrastructure in the country.
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