Syrian army and Iranian-backed militias move closer to border with Israel, Lebanon

Mughr al Meer MOUNT HERMONSyrian army forces backed by Iranian-backed militias pushed deeper into the last rebel-held enclave near a strategic border area with Israel and Lebanon in a new expansion of Tehran’s influence in the war-torn country.

The army and the Shi‘ite forces advanced east and south of the Sunni-rebel held bastion of Beit Jin backed by some of the heaviest aerial bombing and heavy artillery shelling since a major assault began over two months ago to seize the area, rebels said.

The Syrian army said it had encircled the village of Mughr al Meer at the foothills of Mount Hermon as troops moved toward Beit Jin amid fierce clashes.

The enclave is the last rebel bastion left in the south west of Damascus known as the Western Ghouta that had since last year fallen under government control after months of heavy bombing on civilian areas and years of siege tactics that forced rebels to surrender.

A western intelligence source confirmed rebel reports that Iranian-backed militias including the powerful Lebanese Hezbollah Shi‘ite group were playing a major role in the ongoing battles.

Worried by Iran’s expanding influence in Syria after the defeat of Islamic State, Israel has in the last few weeks stepped up its strikes against suspected Iranian targets inside Syria.

Early this month an Israeli strike on a base near Kiswah, south of Damascus was widely believed to be an Iranian military compound, according to a Western intelligence source

Israel has been lobbying both big powers to deny Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other Shi‘ite militias any permanent bases in Syria, and to keep them away from the Golan, as they gain ground while helping Damascus beat back Sunni-led rebels.

The southwest of Syria is part of a de-escalation zone in southern Syria agreed last July between Russia and Washington, the first such understanding between the two powers.

The area has not seen Russian bombing unlike other ceasefire areas in Syria.

Diplomatic sources say several thousand Shi‘ite fighters who have been amassing from outside the Quneitra province are pitted against hundreds of Islamist and mainstream Free Syria Army (FSA) rebels closing ranks under the banner of Itihad Quwt Jabal al Sheikh “Union of fighters of Jabal al Sheikh”. They are mainly drawn from local fighters from the area.

With the army and Iranian backed offensive widening, the rebels have called on youths to enlist as mosque imams in Beit Jin called on people to take up arms and fight the army.

Rebels still have a sizeable presence in central and southern Quneitra, in the Syrian Golan Heights.

Western diplomatic sources say the crushing of the Sunni rebel presence in areas they have been in since 2013 will allow Lebanon’s Hezbollah to open another secure arms supply line from its border in southern Lebanon into Syria.

Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, Iran has had a growing presence in the country, deploying thousands of Shi‘ite fighters who have fought against both mainstream Sunni rebel groups and more militant groups.

REUTERS

  • Rascal

    Iran is certainly not looking to cool down the conflict, in fact things will be heating up along the Golan very soon as Hezb/Iran send in more cannon fodder to test Israels resolve. There will never be peace again in Syria as long as IRGC continues to press forward and attempt to build up along the boarder.
    I foresee a lot more dead Iranian Generals and disposable shiites very soon.

    • Hannibal
      • Rudy1947
      • Hind Abyad

        Trolls represent the Likud ex-bouncer, Romanian fish eyes Lieberman and Hazan Oren, Bulgarian gangster beast https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/109c7b138ec18e922a9f33c36635362bbb7929c3aac3471a2f7d5469cbeb35e0.jpg https://twitter.com/oren_haz/status/945402960699412480

      • Rascal

        Are you looking forward to continuing wars and the final destruction of Lebanon and Israel?

        • Hannibal

          Not at all. Peace beats any war, won or lost. Vote two states and you pull the carpet of resistance right from under their feet. Until Nutanyahooo behaves we are all stuck going nowhere.

          • Rascal

            Do you honestly believe Iran is looking for any two state solution? It is clear they are looking for more blood. Have you not been listening to the mad mullahs for the last 30 years, they are closer than ever now and seem determined to have another big fight.
            God will not help any religion when the bombs are flying.

          • Hannibal

            Then I do wish they fight any battle they want on their territory using their own people. Instead they use other nations and fight on foreign lands while they build and thrive. Most Shiites fight because they have no income except that coming from Iran. Lack of opportunities, infrastructure and education create that atmosphere where they enlist for the paycheck.

          • Danny Farah

            Hannibal the only we can reach peace if we provide 72 virgins to each extremists and all the Iranian Mullahs. They will be so busy and tired they will never think of any war. But now the problem is finding 72 virgins.. Lol

          • Hannibal

            72 virgin nuns more likely… Look but don’t touch lol

          • Hind Abyad

            Watch Ahed Tamini discussion in Israel.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=AtG6t_cY0Cw

    • Hind Abyad

      Better than Saudi terrorist cleric on our borders.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUiRYSHduTE

      • Rascal

        You have not figured out that Shiites and Sunni are basically two different sides of the same evil Islamic coin. One is not better than the other, I wish both type of jihads death and destruction. May they have great success in more effectively killing each other this new year.

        • Hind Abyad

          NO. Wahhabi is 200 yrs old extremist Sect, living in the Desert they were brigands with no culture no civilization, perfect donkeys for the Western Allies. Saudi Arabia was founded 80 yrs ago Zionists gave them Arabia because of Rothschild Standard Oil.
          Persia is an ancient Civilization.

          “Wahhabism and Jihad”
          “perverted version of Islam” or by those who have “hijacked Islam.”

          PS.. just like Zionists hijacked Judaism.
          https://www.americamagazine.org/issue/425/article/wahhabism-and-jihad
          You’re blocked