The U.S., Russia and Jordan have reportedly reached a ceasefire agreement in southern Syria that will establish a “de-escalation zone” near Israel’s border, where Iran and its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah will not be allowed to operate, but the zone may be as little as 5-7 kilometers (3.1-4.3 miles) from the border in some areas.
Multiple Israeli news outlets reported Saturday that a U.S. official stated all non-Syrian fighters, including Iranian terror proxies, would be expelled from the area near Israel’s border and eventually from all of Syria. But according to Reuters, an unnamed Israeli official said that the distances from the Israeli border would range from 5 kilometers to 30.
Israeli authorities did not comment directly on the agreement, but Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz on Monday indicated that Israel will continue to prepare for the possibility of military action against Iran and its proxies despite the ceasefire.
Though Israel views the agreement “favorably”, said Katz, “the test will be on the ground, not in words but in deeds.”
He added, “Israel has already made it clear that it shall not accept Iran and its affiliates and proxies basing themselves in Syria, which will be a permanent threat and a constant source of tension, friction and instability,”
Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad Momani confirmed to the Amman-based Al Ghad newspaper that non-Syrian fighters would be banned from the area.
The Jordanian official also stated that the new cease-fire deal is based on a previous cease-fire for southern Syria that was brokered by the U.S. and Russia in July—an arrangement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had publicly opposed over concern that it perpetuated the presence of Iranian forces near Israel.
Netanyahu had also intensively lobbied Russia and the U.S. to create a 37-50 mile secure buffer zone between Israel and Syria. After Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s visit to Israel in October, Moscow reportedly agreed to establish a 6-9 mile buffer zone near the Israeli border, exceeding Russia’s initial promise of a 3-mile buffer.
With additional reporting by Breaking Israel News staff