The Syrian Army and the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah moved deeper into a strategic area bordering Israel and Lebanon this week, in the latest aggressive Iranian advancement in the region.
The Syrian forces and Lebanese terror group moved near the Sunni rebel-controlled area of Beit Jin in southern Syria with support from heavy artillery and aerial bombing. Beit Jin is the last remaining rebel-controlled enclave southwest of Damascus.
“The Iranian-backed militias are trying to consolidate their sphere of influence all the way from southwest of Damascus to the Israeli border,” said Suhaib al Ruhail, a member of a Sunni rebel group in the area, Reuters reported.
The developments follow a recent surge in alleged Israeli strikes on targets in Syria, suggesting a new Israeli urgency to block Iran’s spread into the war-torn country.
The latest purported Israeli strikes in Syria targeted weapons production facilities and an Iranian military base.
Without confirming any of the alleged Israeli strikes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in recent months repeatedly emphasized Israel’s oft-stated position that the Jewish state will not allow Iran to maintain a military presence in Syria.
During Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s surprise visit to Russia in late November, Assad relayed a message to Israel via Moscow that Damascus would be willing to implement a 25-mile buffer zone along the Jewish state’s border with Syria. Netanyahu reportedly stated that he would be willing to discuss the deal with Israel’s security establishment, but that Israel still seeks the complete ouster of Iran and Hezbollah from Syria.