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Syrian attacks force refugees toward Israel border

Bashar al-Assad (The Kremlin/Released)

Syrian and Jordanian military officials and analysts say growing instability in south Syria will force large numbers of Syrians to move closer to the borders with Israel, partly as a result of Jordanian efforts to deny Syrian refugees entry.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and government spokeswoman Jumana Gneimat have said that cash-strapped Jordan will not tolerate more refugees entering the country.

Musa Zoubi, head of the studies center in the Dara’a governorate, told Arab News that Assad forces along with Iranian militias and Russian air support are attacking areas of Luja, Baser Al-Harri and Nahta in south Syria.

“The attacks prove that Russia has its independent decision process and that the US State Department’s words have no bearing on the situation on the ground. The Syrian regime has removed any difference between Shiite militias and the regime ones by forcing all to wear the Syria army uniforms. This includes Iranian as well as Hezbollah fighters,” he told Arab News.

Abu Baker Al-Hassan, a military leader in the Syrian Revolutionary Army, told Arab News by phone that there appears to be an understanding that the area east of the Golan Heights will be under Israeli influence.

“Israel has sent weapons and ammunition to help the fighters defend themselves. Israel is working on creating a violence-free zone in Syria. That zone might include both fighters and an unarmed Syrian government police force that will be allowed to operate without any guns or heavy weapons.”

Al-Hassan said that the zone “will be under the influence of the Israelis and it will include people who are working with the Israelis. They received some weapons and ammunition recently to help them defend themselves.”

Retired Maj. Gen. Maamon Abu Nawwar said that despite the humanitarian issue, Jordan is correct in refusing entry to refugees.

“While our hearts break with our fellow neighbors and relatives in Syria, the situation in south Syria doesn’t bode well for a country like Jordan to be able to accept even more refugees,” he said.

“Jordan will be under threat both economically and security wise if it allowed the refugees to enter.”

Abu Nawwar believes that the “current agreement to lower tensions has fallen apart and you cannot depend on the Americans to uphold promises to Jordan when it didn’t honor its promises to the anti-regime forces and also the Kurds.”

Israel will insist on its own interests and the stability of the areas nearest to it on the Golan Heights, he said.

Elias Abu Atta, a spokesman for the Norwegian refugee agency based in Jordan, told Radio Al-Balad on Wednesday that Jordan should welcome refugees fleeing the violence.

“The international community should assist, but Jordan must ensure a haven for those fleeing the violence.”

Abu Atta said that if Jordan failed to open its borders, he expects large numbers of internally displaced Syrians will end up in the Rukban refugee camp on the Syrian side of the Jordanian-Syrian border.


© 2018 the Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.