On Monday, Assad regime soldiers succeeded in driving Islamic State (ISIS) affiliated rebels from Daraa, the southwest corner of Syria bordering Israel’s Golan Heights, marking the first time in the seven-year civil war the Syrian government has controlled the entire length of the border with Israel.
The victory came at a heavy price: six weeks of heavy fighting between the Syrian Army’s 4th Armored Division and Jaysh Khaled bin Walid faction.
In the wake of the Assad regime takeover, Israel shut down Operation Good Neighbor, a humanitarian program providing medical aid to Syrians, for the first time in five years. Since 2013, thousands of Syrians have been treated at the border in IDF field hospitals and more than 600 Syrian children, accompanied by their mothers, have come to Israel for treatment. Food, medical equipment, and clothing have also been sent across the border.
The Israeli government asked Russia to ensure that the government forces do not harm the civilians of the region. Israel has been providing humanitarian services to Syrians but has stated they will not open their borders to Syrian refugees. Ten days ago, Israel played a key role in evacuating 800 White Helmets, Syrian rescue workers and their families, to Jordan.
The Israeli government has repeatedly stated that it will not permit Iranian or Hezbollah forces near its borders.
The region is strategically important for Syria because it also controls a key highway from the Jordanian border to the capital Damascus.