Hezbollah fighters stand near military tanks in Western Qalamoun, Syria.
(photo credit: OMAR SANADIKI/REUTERS)
Iran-backed forces, including Hezbollah, are preparing to withdraw from southern Syria against the backdrop of regional and international negotiations currently underway between the United States, Russia and Jordan over the war-torn country's future, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Thursday.
Specifically, the London-based organization reported, Iran and Hezbollah are planning to withdraw forces from the Dara and Kuneitra areas near Israel's northern border.
The report comes after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Monday that the Syrian army should be the only force on the southern border of the country.
"All the forces that are not Syrian should withdraw, and there must be a situation in which only the forces of the Syrian army will be stationed on the Syrian side of the border with Israel," Lavrov said.
Earlier Thursday, the Syrian opposition newspaper Zaman al-Wassul
reported that a Syrian army commander had decided in recent days to prevent the use of aircraft hangars, which until now had been used to store ammunition by Iranian militias. According to the report, "the decision followed the recent Israeli attacks."
The Syrian commander's decision indicates the regime's decision to demand that Iran close shop on the southern border is a first step in a broader policy of booting Iranian forces completely from Syria, according to the source in the Syrian army.Translated by Eric Sumner.