Netanyahu urges US to establish buffer zones on Syria's border

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 07.04.2017 22:27

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the United States and its allies in the region to establish a buffer zone on both the border between Syria and Israel and the border between Syria and Jordan, targeting Iran's proxy, the Lebanon-based Shiite militant group, Hezbollah, in Lebanon.

Netanyahu has discussed the idea of including a buffer zone as part of any future deal to end the Syrian civil war with the American Trump administration during talks in recent weeks, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Friday.

There have been no details yet over the exact place where such buffer zones would be established and under whose supervision these zones would be activated.

Over the last few weeks, tensions between Lebanon and Israel have increased since the latter believes that the Tehran-based Hezbollah was gaining strength as Iran increased its influence in Syria and Lebanon. Israel unveiled its latest missile defense system called "David's Sling" that is designed to shoot down medium-range missiles possessed by Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

Israel has been targeting Iran-backed Shiite militia group Hezbollah and regime forces in Syria with concerns that Hezbollah might target Israel at any given moment with new weapons supplied by Iran and Russia. The country has mounted dozens of air raids to prevent weapons smuggling to Hezbollah, which is fighting rebels alongside the Syrian army. However, the interception of a missile making its way over the Syrian border was an uncommon incident.

Likewise, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah last month said his fighters were sufficiently equipped to hit the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona. In addition to this, Israeli Brig. Gen. and former Counter-Terrorism Bureau Director Nitzan Nuriel last week said the war with Hezbollah was only a question of time.

Israel seems determined to take action against Hezbollah, since Iran allegedly intends to build a military base near the disputed Golan Heights and has been building facilities to manufacture weapons inside Lebanon.

As long as Iran has the power to dominate Damascus and mobilize Shiite groups, there will eventually be conflict with Israel. During the 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 rockets on Israeli communities, while Israel bombarded militant targets in southern Lebanon. The month of fighting killed an estimated 1,300 Lebanese, 44 Israeli civilians and 121 Israeli soldiers.

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