In southern Syria, the US faces a Russia-Israel challenge

June 21, 2018 | By | Reply More

Dynamics in the southern front in Syria have reached a tipping point. Russian-Israeli coordination is taking precedence over the ceasefire agreement that US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached on the sidelines of the G20 summit last year.

In southern Syria, the US faces a Russia-Israel challengeIran and the United States are both facing increasing pressure in the area, while both the Syrian regime and the Syrian armed opposition are on alert over a potential clash to settle the question of who controls the southwest border areas.

US’ ambivalent role on the southern front

The US used to play a significant role on the southern front. The Amman-based US-led Military Operations Center (MOC) was providing training and weaponry to a number of Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups operating in southwest Syria between 2014 and 2016.

The US and the FSA groups did not see eye to eye on whether the priority was to fight the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group or the Syrian regime. Ultimately, when Washington signed the ceasefire agreement with Moscow, it closed the supply lines to the southern front.

Jordan sealed off its border with Syria after it was overwhelmed by the large number of refugees fleeing the Syrian war. Since then, the southern front became a low priority issue for the Trump administration compared with the high-level US diplomatic and military engagement on the northern front.

But the Russian-Israeli coordination, which has increased to unprecedented levels in recent weeks at the expense of both the US and Iran, has compelled the Trump administration to come back on the scene.

It is currently trying to pressure Russia to fulfil its commitments from the July 2017 ceasefire. The negotiated plan reportedly trades the US vacating al-Tanf base for withdrawing Iranian forces and their backed militias from southwest Syria. The Syrian regime and its Iranian allies have hoped to take control of the area and the al-Waleed border crossing for a while in order to open the Baghdad-Damascus highway.

The US offer to Russia includes keeping all Syrian and foreign militias 20 to 25km away from the Jordanian border, transferring the opposition fighters and their families to Idlib, reopening the Nasib border crossing (near Deraa city) with Jordan, and forming a joint US-Russian mechanism to oversee the agreement.

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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Category: International

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