Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Putin Seeks Israeli Flexibility

Pause in Syria’s Daraa Offensive amid Putin-Trump impasse on its goals. Putin seeks Israeli flexibility

The Syrian Daraa offensive has by and large fallen silent and preparations to attack Quneitra are on hold. The outflow of refugees has slowed.

DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose that the Syrian army’s Tigers Force and 4th Division, which spearheaded the Daraa thrust to impose Bashar Assad’s rule on southwest Syria, have downed arms for the moment, along with Hizballah’s elite Radwan fighters. Also suspended are Syrian preparations to go next for the Quneitra region opposite Israel’s Golan border.

Our sources disclose that the lull in fighting was ordered by the Russian commanders due to their low opinion of the Syrian-Hizballah forces’ ability to successfully conclude the Daraa-Quneitra operation in time for the Putin-Trump summit on July 16 in Helsinki.

  • Russian diplomatic feelers with Washington – and secret approaches to Israel and Jordan for an accommodation – have come to nothing. Neither was a breakthrough reached in the phone conversation on Tuesday, July between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The US is adamantly opposed to Putin’s drive to forcibly assert the Assad regime’s authority in the two southwestern provinces on the Jordanian and Israeli borders, knowing that this will open the door to Iranian and Hizballah forces. An attempt to achieve Israeli flexibility on Iran’s presence in Syria, in the hope of indirectly persuading the Trump administration, was also made on Tuesday in a conversation between Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ribakov and Israel’s ambassador to Moscow, Gary Koren. Putin invited Binyamin Netanyahu to Moscow on July 11, to try again. Meanwhile, the fate of the Syrian front hangs fire as an unsolved issue between Washington and Moscow – largely over Putin’s acceptance of the Iranian and Hizballah presence in Syria.

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