Russian military forces have replaced the Syrian regime’s military presence in Daraa and Quneitra in southern Syria, and have built a base in the area, Syrian opposition sources reported this week.
The move indicates that Russia intends to create a more permanent military presence near Israel’s northern border, and comes after the implementation of a Syrian cease-fire agreement brokered by the U.S. and Russia in July.
The Lebanon-based and Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen media network corroborated the reports, stating that Russian forces have been deployed in the region and are stationed in military posts shared with Syrian army units.
The Syrian army’s 4th division auxiliary force is the only regime unit due for complete withdrawal from southern Syria, while other Syrian military units will remain there, Al Mayadeen reported. Further, the Lebanese media outlet said Russia has built a military base between the city of Damascus and the suburb of Daraa.
Israeli officials remain concerned regarding the presence of the Syrian army as well as Hezbollah and Iranian forces in southern Syria. In July, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia perpetuates the presence of Iranian forces near Israel. America and Russia responded to Netanyahu’s criticism by saying Israel’s interests would be taken into account in Syria.