Russia Deploys Military Police in Safe Zones Eight Miles From Israeli Border

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad visits a Russian air base at Hmeymim, in western Syria in June. (SANA/Handout via Reuters)

Russia’s foothold in the Mideast grew bigger on Tuesday with the deployment of military police to monitor two safe zones being established in Syria, including an observation post near the Israeli Golan Heights.

The move came despite Israeli opposition to the arrangement made between the U.S., Russia and Jordan, which could endanger Israeli security by allowing an Iranian-backed military presence close to its border.

The defense ministry in Moscow announced the deployment, which it said included two checkpoints and ten watch posts set up on July 21 and 22, “along the approved areas of lines of contact” between rebel forces and Assad regime troops.

Taking note of Israel’s concerns, Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy said:

“It is to be stressed that the nearest watch post is 13 kilometers [8 miles] far from the zone of separation zone between Israel and Syria near the Golan Heights. The zone has been approved in accordance with the international agreements,” he said adding that Moscow had informed Israel, the United States, and Jordan about the deployment.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that Israel cannot tolerate a ceasefire agreement which would enable Iran or Hezbollah to operate near its borders.

Maj.-Gen. (res) Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Netanyahu, said a week ago that “We understand the threats which emerge from this arrangement which was done without taking into consideration what Israel has to do to guarantee its ability to defend itself,” and added that if necessary, Israel will intervene to remove hostile installations in the area.

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