The IDF on Saturday increased readiness for violence in the north of Israel and in Syria after US President Donald Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
“We are preparing for the possibility of tension in the northern Golan Heights,” the Israeli military said in a statement, without providing further details.
Hebrew-language media reported that the Israeli military and police were preparing for violent protests on both sides of the border. According Channel 13 news, snipers have been deployed and riot control measures, such as tear gas and rubber bullets, have been supplied to forces stationed in the area.
Approximately half of the Golan’s residents are Jewish Israelis while the remainder are Druze who are mostly citizens of Syria.
White House officials are currently drafting an official US declaration recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, with Trump set to sign it when he hosts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington next week, Israeli TV reports said Friday.
US-backed forces in Syria announced Saturday they have liberated the last pocket of territory held by the Islamic State in Syria, declaring victory over the extremist group and bringing an end to the caliphate it declared in 2014.
The capture of the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces brings to a close a grueling battle that stretched across several weeks and saw thousands of people flee the territory and hundreds killed.
“Baghouz is free and the military victory against Daesh has been achieved,” tweeted Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the SDF, referring to the group by its Arabic acronym.
The elimination of the last IS stronghold in Baghouz marks the end of the militants’ proto-state, which at its height blanketed large parts of Syria and Iraq, but the group maintains a scattered presence and sleeper cells across Syria and Iraq. IS affiliates in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Afghanistan and other countries continue to pose a threat, and the group’s ideology has inspired so-called lone-wolf attacks that had little if any connection to its leadership.
The campaign to take back the territory by the US and its partners has spanned five years and two US presidencies, unleashed more than 100,000 bombs and killed untold numbers of fighters and civilians.
But the weekend announcement, in a tweet, was anti-climactic, and on the ground sporadic gunfire continued. A day earlier, US President Donald Trump declared that Islamic State militants no longer control any territory in Syria.
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