Israel will continue to uphold its red lines in Syria, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday as a Russian-American-Jordanian brokered ceasefire went into effect in the southwest of the war-torn country, including in areas running along the Golan Heights border.
“We will continue to monitor developments beyond our borders while strongly upholding our red lines: Prevent the strengthening of Hezbollah via Syria, with emphasis on the acquisition of precision weapons, prevent Hezbollah – or Iranian forces – from establishing a ground presence along our border, and prevent the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria as a whole,” Netanyahu said at the weekly Cabinet meeting.
While adding that Israel welcomes a ceasefire, Netanyahu added that it must not “enable the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria in general and in southern Syria in particular.”
Netanyahu said he held “deep discussions” on the matter last week with United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Both told me that they understand Israel’s position and will take our demands into account,” he said.
Netanyahu has issued a series of warnings to Iran over the past month: I have one message for Iran: Don’t threaten Israel,” Netanyahu said on June 19, after Iran fired cruise missiles at ISIS targets in Syria, later hinting that the strike was also a message to Israel; on June 25 Netanyahu said Israel views with “great severity” Iran’s attempts “to establish military bases in Syria and to equip Hezbollah with advanced weapons through Syria and Lebanon.”
The ceasefire includes the provinces of Daraa, Suwaida, and Quneitra; the latter is close to Israel’s Golan Heights border with Syria and was the scene of heavy fighting in recent weeks, including spillover of fire into Israeli territory followed by IDF retaliatory strikes.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, “calm prevailed” over the area from Saturday afternoon prior to the ceasefire coming into effect at dawn on Sunday.