Russian Warplanes Set Stage for Quneitra Battle

Russian Warplanes Set Stage for Quneitra Battle

Monday, 16 July, 2018 - 06:00
A picture taken on October 6, 2017 shows the Israeli defensive fence as it snakes, separating the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights (L) from Syria near Quneitra. / AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX
Beirut - Caroline Akoum
Syrian regime forces extended on Sunday their operations in the southwest to Quneitra province that lies near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a move that observers considered a prelude to a battle in the area after a near completion of the Daraa offensive.

Rebels and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights believe that Russian jets were responsible for bombing a village in Quneitra on Sunday.

The Observatory based its assumptions on the fact that those planes were flying on a high altitude.

Riyad Qahwaji, CEO of Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, confirmed the statements of the British-based monitor group.

“The Syrian jets do not dare to reach the Quneitra area due to an agreement struck between Russia and Israel in the southern front,” Qahwaji said.

Rebels and the Observatory said that the Quneitra strikes came after failed negotiations concerning the “Triangle of Death”, which links the countryside of Daraa to Damascus and Quneitra.

Reuters on Sunday quoted the Observatory as saying that Syrian forces had seized the village of Mashara, about 11 km from the Golan frontier, after heavy shelling, and were now trying to capture elevated land south of the village with shelling and air strikes.

But a rebel official in Quneitra denied Syrian forces had taken the village and said fighting continued.

“Over 28 (air) strikes struck Mashara and intense artillery and missile bombardment,” Suhaib al-Ruhail said, according to the news agency.

The pro-Damascus Lebanese television news channel, Al Mayadeen said that Syrian forces were advancing towards the Tal Mashara area. But, opposition forces later denied the report.

Meanwhile, rebel fighters began leaving the city of Daraa as talks continued to prevent regime forces from entering the city of Nawa in the countryside of Daraa amid Russian police deployment.

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