Israel has warned senior officers of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the southern region from cooperating with Lebanon’s Hezbollah in messages sent directly to their mobile phones, al-Akhbar reported on December 4, citing sources with knowledge on the matter.
The messages were directly sent from a number hosted in Cyprus to the officers’ mobile phones over the WhatsApp messaging application.
“Hezbollah and Iran are taking advantage of you to operate on the border against Israel, you bear responsibility and you won’t be away from our responses,” the message reads.
A source in the SAA told the al-Akhbar newspaper that this was the first time ever Israel sent a threat directly to senior Syria officers.
Earlier this year, the Israeli military dropped leaflets over Syria’s southern region, warning senior officers of the SAA’s 1st Corps from cooperating with Hezbollah.
On November 18, Israeli airstrikes destroyed the office of Major General Akram Hawija, the commander of the 1st Corps’ 7th Division. Hawija was one of the officers named in the leaflets.
A source in Iranian-backed forces in southern Syria told al-Akhbar that the relationship with the SAA was not harmed by the recent Israeli threats.
“A very good and close relationship has been formed between the two sides as a result of years of fighting side by side,” the source, who described the relationship as “excellent,” said.
According to al-Akhbar, the SAA’s 1 Corps is now leading the efforts to rebuild Syria’s capabilities on the frontline with the occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s allies, Iran and Hezbollah, are backing these efforts.
New military camps and fortified positions are being built along the frontline. Some of the new positions were struck by Israel in the last few months. Al-Akhbar’s source stressed that the work in Syria’s southern region will go on, confirming that Iranian-backed forces are present in the region “as much as the plans dictates.”
Israeli hopes that its pressure will force Iran out of Syria, or at least push Iranian forces out from the country’s southern region. This will not likely happen anytime soon. By warning Syrian officers, Tel Aviv is doubling down on this failed strategy.
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