Jordan army clashes with Islamic State militants fleeing Syrian forces

Glen Norman
August 3, 2018

Israel considers Iran's growing influence in Syria - it has advisers and allied militias fighting alongside Syrian troops- as an existential threat and had looked for guarantees from Moscow to push pro-Iran fighters away from its frontiers.

The strategic plateau divides Israel and Syria, old foes, and saw decades of stable stand-off before the Syrian rebellion.

After weeks of intensive Russian-backed bombing, Syrian forces have seized the lush farmland where the Yarmouk River flows that was once controlled by a group affiliated to Islamic State known as the Khaled Bin Walid Army.

Syrian air defense forces at Mezzeh Military Airport say they engaged "hostile missiles" in the southwestern part of Damascus province late Thursday night local time, as reports of powerful explosions heard over the Syrian capital by numerous residents in the area, flooded social media.

Army units had used "all types of weapons" to shell a group of militants who had come close to its side of the Yarmouk Valley in clashes that lasted almost 24 hours from Tuesday to Wednesday afternoon, an army source said. The claim came from the Interfax news agency citing the Russian Defence Ministry sources. The UN mission was also unable to access a refugee camp in Israel via Syria. Russian Federation on Wednesday said that Iran had withdrawn its heavy weaponry to about 50 miles from the border, a measure Israeli officials said was inadequate.

Speaking about the long confrontation between Israel and Syria, Lieberman told journalists that "from our perspective, the situation is returning to how it was before the [Syrian] civil war, meaning there is a real address, someone responsible, and central rule".

Before the civil war erupted in 2011, the cease-fire line between Syria and Israel was largely quiet for years. "I think this is also in Assad's interest".

In Amman, Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the Syrian government has not officially requested the opening of the Syria-Jordan border after government forces recaptured its side of a crossing from rebels last month.

An Israeli airstrike killed armed Islamic State operatives in the Syrian Golan Heights.

When the situation stabilizes, Rudskoy said, the Russian-manned posts would be handed over to Syrian government forces.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy of the Russian General Staff said conditions have been created for the resumption of United Nations peacekeeping patrols along the area separating Syria and Israel.

Lieberman reiterated Israel's demand that Iran not set up military bases against it in Syria, nor that Syria be used to smuggle arms to Hezbollah guerrillas in neighbouring Lebanon.

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