Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz responds to Arabic press reports suggesting new Iran-Russia reconfiguration in Syria will see Iranian troops deployed in Quneitra, along border with Israel • “We need to make sure Iranian forces stay in Iran,” he says.
Daniel Siryoti and Israel Hayom Staff
While Iran’s and Russia’s growing involvements in the ongoing Syrian civil war are not secret, new details reported in the Arabic-language press are causing massive concern for Israel.
According to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai, Russia and Iran have agreed to deploy special military units to Syria to take active parts in the fighting there. Furthermore, the paper reported, Tehran and Moscow have re-coordinated their military operations on Syrian soil, redistributing their involvement in a way that will bring Iranian troops to Israel’s border.
The new configuration of troops will see Russian forces in Latakia and Aleppo, while Iranian forces will be responsible for Damascus and areas to the south, including Daraa and Quneitra, the latter in the Syrian Golan Heights, along the border with Israel.
According to the report, Iranian troops have already been stationed in Damascus, and a plane landed in Syria this week carrying some 100 Iranian soldiers and military officers.
The latest influx of soldiers includes Iranian special forces trained in urban combat, and marks Tehran’s first official participation in ground combat in Syria.
Speaking to Army Radio on Tuesday, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz said that “the biggest, most dangerous challenge for us would be an Iranian military presence in Syria, on our northern border. It would be a direct ground front with Iran.”
He said that Western efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict must include measures to keep Iranian forces out of Syria.
“We need to make sure that under any potential agree