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Israel threatens Syria strikes if Assad's forces enter demilitarised Golan zone

Israel issued the warning to Syrian regime forces on Thursday. [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 July, 2018

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Israel warned on Thursday that it would attack Syrian regime forces if they deploy in a demilitarised zone while advancing against opposition rebels in the region.

Israel warned on Thursday that it would attack Syrian regime forces if they deploy in a demilitarised zone while advancing against opposition rebels in the region.

Bashar al-Assad's forces launched a military offensive last month in Daraa and are expected to target rebel-held Quneitra located next to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

At least 320,000 civilians have been displaced by the fighting, according to the United Nations.

"We must verify and do everything to clarify, vis-a-vis the Russians, the Assad government, that we will not accept any armed presence by the Assad regime in the areas which are meant to be demilitarized," Gilad Erdan, a minister in Netanyahu's security cabinet, told the Israeli news site Ynet on Thursday.

Asked if Israel was prepared to take preventive action against the Syrian military, Erdan said: "Unequivocally, yes."

The Israeli minister cited previous examples of Israeli airstrikes carried out against Syrian facilities deemed to have been used in attacks on Israel by Iranian forces in Syria.

"Here, too, if there is a violation, and certainly in the southern Syrian region which is close to the citizens of the State of Israel, and a bringing of weaponry that should not be there, Israel will take action," Erdan said.

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called twice for the preservation of a UN-monitored 1974 Israeli-Syrian armistice which prohibits or limits military build-ups either side of the Golan.

Earlier this week, Israel said it would not allow Syrians fleeing southern Syria to find refuge in territories under its control.

Israel has blocked entry to Syrians throughout the seven-year war, but medics and hospitals have treated some Syrians injured in fighting in the occupied Golan. 

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