Final Syrian Civil War Fighting Brings Combatants to Israel’s Doorstep
Thousands of tourists to Israel each year flock to an observation point in the north where one can see a single expanse where Israel, Lebanon and Syria merge. While government and military officials are pleased when many tourists come to view the area beyond the border fence, they are notably displeased when those who show up on that other side are soldiers loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and fighters from Hizbullah’s terrorist army. As the seven-year old Syrian civil war winds down, one of the final points of contention is that area along the border with Israel and Lebanon – an area where talks are now underway to negotiate the withdrawal of rebels who for the better part of a decade have sought to topple Assad but are now literally with their backs against the fence thanks to the Russian military and Iran’s proxy, Hizbullah. The other side of the fence, of course, is Israel. And for the Israelis, the major objective has been to prevent Tehran from leaving a military presence in place along the Israeli border. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has chalked up many frequent flyer points on trips to Moscow to beseech President Vladimir Putin to use his influence to ensure that Iranian and Hizbullah troops know that when the fighting is over they go back home; and to plead for Russia to forego selling sophisticated defense systems to the Syrians and Iranians that will complicate Israeli military operations against enemy forces in Syria. So far it seems that airline miles are the only thing Prime Minister Netanyahu has gotten from his campaign for friend Vladimir’s cooperation. Whether more will follow might be apparent from the outcome of the evacuation talks on the other side of the border.