Key Shift in Syrian Troops From Golan Worries Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -
Sign warning of a mine field near the Syrian border with Israel’s Golan Heights. (FLASH90)
Sign warning of a mine field near the Syrian border with Israel’s Golan Heights. (FLASH90)

In what was described as the most significant development in 40 years on the Golan Heights, Syria has reportedly withdrawn several thousand troops from the region bordering Israel for redeployment closer to the capital Damascus.

“They [the Syrian government] have moved some of their best battalions away from the Golan,” a western diplomatic source told the British newspaper The Guardian. The source added, “They have replaced some of them with poorer-quality battalions, which have involved reducing manpower. The moves are very significant.”

As a result, more rebel forces have moved into the Golan, something Israel is watching with concern since the area could be used as a staging ground for terrorist attacks. For months there have been reports of al-Qaida-linked and Islamic Jihad terrorists entering Syria to fight alongside the rebels.

The Guardian also noted the “ever more vulnerable position” of the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), that is stationed on the Golan Heights ceasefire line, as a result of the troop movements.

Late Tuesday, two Hizbullah members, who fought alongside the forces of the Syrian regime near the Lebanese border, were killed, AFP reported, quoting a source affiliated with Hizbullah.