Russia has begun moving troops to the Golan Heights border in preparation for a new military base in the area, according to Lebanese media sources.
The Al Mayadeen news channel reported that the Russian troops have replaced some Syrian army forces in the area, which has been a rebel stronghold throughout the civil war.
Online newspaper Al-Masdar News reported on Monday that over 400 Russian soldiers were deployed to the Dara’a and Quneitra governorates in southern Syria to begin their policing effort. Russian soldiers have been tasked with maintaining the ceasefire between the Syrian Armed Forces and rebels in the governorates.
The new Russian troop deployment follows reports on July 26th that Russian military police were deployed to monitor two safe zones, one of which was located eight miles from the Golan Heights.
On July 9th, a new ceasefire agreement in southern Syria came into effect. It was brokered between the U.S. and Russia, with the support of Jordan. The ceasefire was announced after a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during the G20 Summit in Germany. It affects the regions of Deraa and Suweida, along the Jordanian border, as well as Quneitra, near the border between Syria and the Israeli Golan Heights.
Following the announcement of the ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel opposed the agreement because it perpetuates the Iranian presence in the country. Israel’s main concerns revolve around keeping Iran, Hezbollah, and Shi’ite militias away from the Israeli and Jordanian borders, and preventing Iran from gaining a foothold in Syria.
Israel’s security cabinet was reportedly briefed this week that U.S. and Russia have yet to agree on who would guarantee the arrangements in the de-escalation zones, prevent the entry of Iranian, Hezbollah, or Shi’ite militia forces, and monitor the ceasefire.