In the recent past, the situation in the Syrian south hasn’t been hardly covered in media as in Idlib and Deir Ezzor. Meanwhile, the situation in the south deserves our attention.
After de-escalation zones in Eastern Ghouta and Homs have been essentially disappeared the question was raised on a format like that as a tool in principle. It was noted that such action could hardly be considered as facilitating the settlement of the crisis in Syria.
In the zones under the guise of the so-called moderate opposition, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra have infiltrated and established control, as recent experience has shown. Hiding, their numbers reached tens of thousands.
Two de-escalation zones continue to function at present in Idlib province and in southern Syria. Everything is clear with Idlib de-escalation zone where all the radicals operating in Syria have being expelled from all over the country including members of numerous terrorist organizations for the last two years. But in the south, the situation is not so clear.
It should be recalled that bordering with Jordan southern de-escalation zone was negotiated in Astana and established in May 2017. In early July, its status was clarified during the talks between the representatives of Russia, the United States, and Jordan. That time, the US and Jordan, as guarantor countries, pledged not only to ensure the observance of the ceasefire by the armed opposition but also to continue the fight against terrorism inside the zone.
Firstly, the bulk of ‘the southern zone’ was controlled in fact by the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) which was provided with money and weapons by Washington and Tel Aviv as well as with the regular humanitarian convoys.
However, the situation on the ground in that area has changed significantly since the summer of 2017. The experts claim approximately 55% of zone’s territory passed under the control of ISIS and al-Nusra to date. The total number of jihadists there comprises more than 5 thousand people.
Such a development prompted to raise the question of an operation to eliminate terrorists in the de-escalation area. No wonder Israel has become among the first to support clearing borderlines of the radicals. Tel Aviv even agreed to endure SAA’s returning up to the demarcation line in the Golan Heights which was really too difficult to embrace. The interest of Netanyahu is obvious. After all, so many terrorists located just near the Syrian-Israeli border are over the top, even for him.
Thus, Israel insisted on the withdrawal of pro-Iranian Shiite forces deep into the Syrian territory, as a condition for supporting the counterterrorist operation in ‘the southern zone’. It was done, as we know.
The Syrian Arab Army subsequently began to plan an offensive but the operation was postponed because of Washington’s position. The United States stated it would not allow the Syrian army to enter the so-called de-escalation zone.
The US decides to create ‘the southern zone’ having far-reaching benefits, in fact. Apparently, by providing the radicals with money and weapons and by turning a blind eye to ISIS expansion the White House all the while has been preparing a foothold to attack Damascus located less than 100 kilometers from this zone of de-escalation. Does Washington strive to retain at least something to continue reverberating around Syria even at the hands of terrorists?