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May 28, 2018 2:54 pm

Report: Israel, Iran Reach Back-Channel Understandings on Syria Operation

avatar by Daniel Siryoti / Israel Hayom / JNS.org

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An IDF soldier looks into southern Syria from the Israeli side of the border. Photo: IDF via Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Israel and Iran recently used back channels to reach ‎behind-the-scenes understandings over Syrian ‎maneuvers in the southern Golan Heights, Saudi media ‎reported Sunday.‎

According to the independent Arabic news website Elaph, Syrian ‎President Bashar Assad’s military is scheduled to ‎carry out large operations in Daraa and Quneitra, in ‎the Syrian Golan Heights, to counter ‎rebel forces in the area.‎

The question of whether Iranian forces or Iranian-‎backed militias, including Hezbollah, would take ‎part in the operation sparked concern in both Jordan ‎and Israel. ‎

According to the report, Jordan made it clear to the ‎Syrians and their Russian allies that it would ‎not tolerate the deployment of Shiite militias near ‎its border with Syria. ‎

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Jordan also made it clear that military maneuvers ‎involving Iranian-backed forces could trigger a ‎military confrontation between Iran and Israel. ‎

The report indicated that Iran used Jordan as a go-between to relay a message to Israel, saying it would not operate in southeastern Syria near the border with Jordan.‎

According to the report, the understandings were ‎reached in a series of indirect meetings in Jordan, ‎where Iranian officials, including the envoy to ‎Jordan, met with top Jordanian officials, who in turn ‎met with senior Israeli security officials.‎

“Within a few hours, we managed to reach an ‎understanding with all the parties operating in the ‎region — mainly Israel and Iran — that the Syrian ‎and Jordanian armies would be the only two forces ‎to deploy on both sides of the border between Syria and ‎Jordan. The Iranians provided assurances that their ‎forces would not operate alongside the Syrian ‎military in the offensive,” a senior Jordanian official who took part in the ‎mediation efforts told the Saudi website. ‎‎

‎”On the other hand, Israel made it clear ‎to the Syrians, and especially to the Iranians, that ‎it would not allow Iranian forces to operate alongside the Syrian army in Daraa and Quneitra, ‎even at the price of a security escalation that ‎could lead to a direct military confrontation with ‎Iran.”

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