Executive Intelligence Review


Syrian Army Rolling Up Jihadi Groups in Southwest Syria

July 2, 2018 (EIRNS)—The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), backed by Russian airpower, is continuing to roll up jihadi control of territory in Daraa and Sweida provinces. Al Masdar News reported this morning that Syrian army units are approaching the town of Nassib, a couple of kilometers from a crossing station on the Jordanian border and about 13 km southeast of Daraa city, itself. For the rebel forces, losing the Nassib Crossing could be devastating, as it would give the SAA access to the southeastern part of Daraa city, Al Masdar reports. For the SAA, seizing the Nassib Crossing is a high priority, because it will allow them to reopen the Damascus-Amman Highway for the first time in several years.

At the same time, Free Syrian Army (FSA) elements in the town of Busra al Sham, about 27 km east of Nassib, have agreed to surrender to the Syrian army. With Busra Al-Sham under their control, the SAA will be able to not only secure the provincial border of Al-Sweida, but also to take hold of the eastern countryside of the Daraa Governorate for the first time since the start of the armed conflict in Syria, according to another Al Masdar report. A number of other towns have also reportedly accepted the surrender terms of the Syrian army.

An analysis in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, by its military correspondent Amos Harel, suggests that in Israel, the reality of the Syrian offensive in the south has now been accepted. Harel reports that Israel is unlikely to aid the rebel groups (which may include groups that, according to other news reports, Israel has helped in the past) now being rolled up by the Syrian army.

“The combined assault by the Assad regime [sic] and the Russian air force are gradually pushing the rebels out of southern Syria and causing tens of thousands of refugees to flee toward the borders of neighboring Jordan and Israel. At the same time, the assault presents Israel with a new test: how to maintain the red lines it has set for its defense without being dragged into direct conflict with the Syrian regime,”

Harel writes.

“And no less important, how to do this without clashing with Russia, with which Israel has greatly strengthened ties over the past few months and regards as an ally in fulfilling its key goal, distancing Iran and the Shi’ite militias from the border on the Golan Heights,”

which Israel seized from Syria in 1967. All of this is the immediate challenge for Israel, he writes.