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