As rebels in Syria surrender their medium and heavy weapons, the Syrian Army is driving ISIS out of the southern countryside, near the Golan Heights.
The Syrian army has found something peculiar amongst the captured arsenal of hundreds of different weapons. The weapons captured included grenades, many RPGs, makeshift mortars, and even WW2 era machine guns, however, this was not what caught the eye of government forces.
What was particularly interesting, was the presence of Israeli made landmines, as described in a report by Fort Russ. Syrian media posted a video of the captured weapons, which show the massive disparity in arms, but the Israeli mines as described in the report are particularly interesting.
It is no secret that Israel has been funding fighters in Syria; the foreign backing of the “moderate head-choppers” is well known and documented. Fort Russ reports:
Since the beginning of hostilities in Syria, the Syrian military has repeatedly seized weapons and ammunition with Hebrew inscriptions. In April 2016, Syrian forces detained a vehicle packed with mines, mortars, rockets and hand grenades manufactured by Israel and destined for an ISIS-controlled area in eastern Syria.
Israel says it provides humanitarian assistance to Syrian forces opposed to the government, but remains silent about the apparent supply of weapons. Meanwhile, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported in February that at least seven terrorist groups in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights are receiving weapons and ammunition from Israel. In addition, the amount of direct military assistance they receive is being increased in recent months.
Syria had already accused Israel of waging a war through its allied militias with Assad saying Israeli authorities were on the side of terrorists “whether logistically or through direct attacks on our army.”
This comes at a time of growing tensions between the two countries and just days after Israel launched a series of rockets against Iranian targets in Syria in retaliation for an alleged attack by the Iranian Quds forces on Israeli positions in the Golan. At least three people were killed and two wounded in the bombing, which was condemned by Iran as a flagrant violation of Syria’s sovereignty.
Israeli media has even admitted to funding many groups, in order to “push back Iran”, saying that “due to America’s decreased involvement”, Israel has been forced to make significant changes in its policies in the Golan Heights”.
Recently, we have seen plainly what Israel means by significant changes…ramping up the typical war crimes, this time targetting Syria and Iran, via their alleged presence in Syria. Israel has recently, and illegally, bombed several targets in Syria, claiming their positions in the occupied Golan heights were bombed.
It is interesting that Israel mentioned taking action due to America’s supposed decreased involvement in the region. If anything, it shows how closely tied their foreign policy is, though its hard to say America’s involvement has shifted, as much as it’s become unpredictable.
Obviously, it’s still business as usual, and support for the Zionist cause shows no sign of wavering, and perhaps has gotten stronger, but Trump’s actions in Syria have been quite different than those of Obama.
Broadly speaking, in the Obama administration, the policy was to support so-called “Moderate rebels”, such as the FSA, which is neither Free nor Syrian, and hardly an organized army. The Obama doctrine seemed to be to unite as much as possible with the European allies, as well as Turkey and NATO partners, and interlocking their narrative – Assad must go – in order to create the illusion, there is some kind of international consensus on the matter.
Trump, on the other hand, has shown very little concern with the opinions of the international community, making decisions unilaterally, even going against the opinions of his EU allies, and making Turkey operate more independently. An example of this is Trump canceling the internationally approved Iran deal, struck under the Obama administration.
Trump’s policy has been quite difficult to understand, in Syria and the Middle East. Obama had a clear policy, that isn’t to say it was good, but it wasn’t hard to figure out. Trump has been totally unpredictable.
For example, he seems to have lost enthusiasm for funding “moderate rebels”, at least publically. This isn’t to say the deals don’t occur under the table, or that the US is actively fighting the terrorists now, but the public narrative has pivoted away from supporting moderate rebels.
In broad strokes, Trump has focused more on countering Iran, and to a lesser extent, early on, Trump lent much favor to the Kurdish fighters, angering NATO ally Turkey. An example of Trump’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for the Obama era proxies, is the apparent cutting of funding to the White Helmets.
So while things like the story above seem promising, it’s too quick to say Trump’s policy in Syria has been a major step for peace. Let’s not forget that with all Obama’s rhetoric, it was Trump who first proudly bombed Syria – on two separate major occasions.
The only consistent aspect of Trump’s policy has been an even stronger alignment with Israel’s interests. Israel’s interests, however, have never been hard to predict, yet how often their actions fly under the radar.
Israel’s latest actions have seemed heavily coordinated with Trump’s, for example, moments after Trump canceled the Iran deal, Israel bombed what they called “Iranian forces” in Syria. Then, while protests in Gaza have flared up, Israel launched one of their biggest assaults in the last months on the day Trump opens the controversial Jerusalem embassy.
While I am not saying these events were specifically preordained, it does reveal how intertwined American and Israeli actions have become. Whereas the attention in Syria used to be on ISIS positions in the north-east, since the liberation of Deir ez-Zor, and the decimation of ISIS forces there, attention has gradually shifted towards southern Syria, near the Golan Heights.
With Trump joining Israel in the anti-Iranian stance, and Israel framing their latest bombings as being connected to Iran and the Golan Heights, it’s not surprising that Syria is capturing Israeli hardware amongst terrorists nearby.
It seems like the Golan Heights – which legally belong to Syria – are once again becoming a major hotspot of conflict between Syria and Israel.