Israel, Russia discuss return to 1974 Syria border area

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Israel and Russia are reportedly holding talks on the withdrawal of Syrian regime forces from the Golan Heights area and a return to the 1974 demarcation lines, according Israeli television broadcaster Kan.

Working groups in both countries have been studying issues including no-man’s land, demilitarized zones and the deployment of Israeli and Syrian forces on both sides of the border, the report said, citing a Russian diplomatic source.

Israel and Syria are believed to have agreed to return to the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement drawn up in the wake of the 1973 October War, with Syria stating it will withdraw from the region after it has defeated the remaining opposition forces near the border.

The report comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin stated at a press conference at the Helsinki Summit earlier this week, that the stating that “the situation on the Golan Heights must be restored to what it was after the 1974 agreement, which set out the terms for the disengagement of forces between Israel and Syria.”

Russia has been fighting alongside Iran and Hezbollah as part of their support of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, battling opposition forces across the country since 2015. Israel has been concerned at the presence of Iranian allied forces in the country, resulting in frequent Israeli strikes against certain Syrian targets.

Netanyahu flew to Moscow last week to discuss future plans for Iranian troops in the country, seeking assurance the militias will be removed from the neighbouring Golan Heights. He also spoke to President Trump via phone, reportedly asking the president to demand this condition from Russia.

“We won’t take action against the Assad regime, and you get the Iranians out,” a Reuters news agency quoted Netanyahu as telling Putin on Wednesday, citing an Israeli official.

Earlier this week, the Syrian army took control of a strategic hill overlooking the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as it pushes forward with an offensive to seize the remaining parts of the southwest from rebels.

Israel has signalled it will not impede the Syrian army offensive in the southern city of Quenitra as long as it steered away from the demilitarised zone.

Source: Middle East Monitor

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