Russia to help restore UN patrols near demilitarised Syria-Israel frontier

Russia to help restore UN patrols near demilitarised Syria-Israel frontier
Russia is further expanding its influence in Syria by helping UN peacekeepers patrol the demilitarised zone between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
2 min read
15 August, 2018
Russian military police will set up checkpoints along the demilitarised zone [Getty]
The Russian military said on Tuesday that its forces in Syria will help UN peacekeepers fully restore patrols along the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, reflecting Moscow's deepening role in mediating between the decades-old foes.

The Russian deployment in the area has also highlighted Moscow's growing clout in the region, where it seeks to balance the sharply conflicting interests of Israel and Iran.

Russia has been Syrian President Bashar Assad's number one backer against rebels seeking to oust him.

Moscow's military intervention in Syria has turned the tide of the war in his favour, helping his forces recapture key areas from the opposition.

Russian military police have been deploying in all areas recaptured from rebels, including on the edge of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, after Syrian regime forces regained control of the area last month.

Read more: Power play and wars of influence: What is the importance of the Golan Heights

Speaking to international reporters on a trip to the area organised by the Russian Defence Ministry, Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko said that the Russian military police have set up four checkpoints on the edge of the demilitarised zone. He added that another four posts may be established in the near future.

"The Russian Military Police helps the UN mission inspecting the UN checkpoints along the whole Bravo line as well as the checkpoints that are between Bravo and Alpha lines. We forward all received information to the UNDOF commander for further analysis in order to restore checkpoints," he said.

Kuralenko added that Russian forces have inspected the demilitarised zone and adjacent areas to help UNDOF map safe routes.

The UN peacekeepers first deployed in the area in 1974 under a deal to separate Syrian and Israeli forces after Israel occupied the Golan Heights in the 1967 war, but they were driven away by al-Qaeda-linked militants in 2014.

By deploying its forces along the Syrian-Israeli frontier, Moscow has sought to assuage Israeli concerns about the Iranian presence in Syria.

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