Rockets Fall, Tensions Rise as Russia Taking Over Syrian Golan

Three rockets reportedly fell on Friday morning on the Syrian side of the border near the Israel-Druze city of Majdal Shams in the Golan. Though the rockets fell inside Syria, shrapnel from the blast damaged a civilian car and building

Sources in Syria reported that anti-regime forces fired surface-to-air missiles at Syrian aircraft in southern Syria, after the aircraft responded to a “hostile target” which tried to enter Syrian airspace.The incident takes place while Russia has been stepping up its efforts to control sections of the Syrian Golan in recent weeks which include establishing a local militia, a development the Israeli government perceives as positive for the region.

A report in the Hebrew-language news site N12 described the Russian actions in the Syrian Golan as “energetic and without much fanfare.” The goal of Russian activities is to “take the legs out from under the Hezbollah and Iran in the regions facing Israel.” The regions of concern in Syria are Daraa, Quneitra, and Jabal al-Druze. The Russians are supporting the al-Huran militia. The militia is headed by a local rebel commander, Ahmed al-Ouda, who fought against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The Russian government supports Assad in the civil war however they support the al-Huran militia for its strongly anti-Iranian stance. It was also reported that many of the militia recruits benefitted from Israeli aid including treatment at hospitals, food, and medical provisions.

According to the report, Russia hopes that its presence in the Syrian Golan will lower the tensions between Israel and Iran/Hezbollah.  Al-Huran troops are reported to be taking down checkpoints established by the Syrian regime army and opposing any influence of Hezbollah in those areas of southern Syria. They are also setting up a civilian authority independent of the Syrian government.

In addition to its activities in the Syrian Golan, Russian military convoys including large numbers of tanks and armored vehicles are expanding their land operations in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria.

On Thursday, the IDF Israel announced it is increasing its military presence in the north amid concerns that Hezbollah would carry out attacks on Israeli targets in retaliation for the killing of a Hezbollah terrorist in an airstrike in Damascus.