US warns Assad of 'firm' measures if southern Syria is attacked

The US has warned that it will take “firm and appropriate measures” to enforce the ceasefire agreement in southern Syria if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sends his troops against the opposition who are based in that part of the country.

The territory in south-western Syria between the border city of Daraa and the Israeli Golan Heights has become another “hot spot” in the large-scale conflict between the irreconcilable enemies in the region: Israel and Iran.

In 2017, the US, Russia and Jordan agreed to include Daraa in the de-escalation zone, in order to set the borders for the truce. Nevertheless, Syrian government forces recently spread leaflets in the rebel-controlled territories warning rebels of an irreversible attack and urging them to surrender their weapons. This was reported on Friday by the Syrian state media.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported that Syrian government forces were moving into the southern province of Deraa.

On Friday, the US State Department published a statement in which it expressed concern regarding the reports that Assad’s army is preparing for an operation in south-western Syria. The US foreign policy department also warned the Syrian government not to take any actions which could lead to an escalation in the conflict.

“As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

In his attempts to suppress the uprising against his family’s long rule in the country, and also in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group, Bashar al-Assad has relied on support from Russia, Iran and the Lebanese group Hezbollah. Iran gives support by sending its own military commanders to Syria, to lead ground operations and mobilize militants throughout the Middle East to assist Assad’s regime.

The US and Israel consider Iran’s significant military presence in Syria a threat to Israel, and have warned Iran of consequences. Israel is estimated to have made dozens of air strikes in recent years against the positions of Hezbollah, Iranian regiments, and Syrian army divisions.

  Assad, Syria, Syrian opposition, Israel, US State Department