Today in the Golan Heights, other than some wrecked armor hulks, nothing brings to mind the pockmarked landscape of the past. Grasslands now support cattle ranches and vineyards flourish against a backdrop of Israeli armor units.

Yet, the Golan Heights were the scene of some of the most bloody fighting during the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur war. In these wars, the Syrians lost massive amounts of men and armored vehicles against Israel. Syria lost most of the Heights in the ’67 war. In 1973, it deployed over 28,000 troops, 1,400 tanks, and 600 artillery pieces that attacked using Soviet-style tactics. It faced 3,000 Israeli troops, 180 tanks, and 60 pieces of artillery.

Syria wants the Heights back. The Iranian regime has vowed to make it happen. 

The Syrian side of the border is a powder keg with conflicting factions competing and at times fighting against each other. The forces of President Bashar Assad, which are heavily backed by Russia, a group of anti-Assad rebels, and Iranian proxy militias, including Hezbollah, are all vying for control of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Sometimes, the fire crosses into the Israeli border. 

The Israeli Air Force frequently conducts airstrikes against any Iranian forces, including Hezbollah. It has frequently stated that any Iranian presence will not be tolerated along the Israeli borders.

The Israelis have a tacit understanding with the Russians that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) will not target Syrian air defenses and radar installations if they are not engaging their aircraft. This is why Syria’s modern S-400 air defense system, which is monitored by and partially staffed with Russian advisors, has not been engaging or been fired upon by the IAF.

The Russians also do not want the Iranians on the Golan because it upsets their influence with the Assad regime. Since 2018, when Hezbollah fighters began streaming into the Golan, Israel closed its medical facilities that were assisting civilians victims of the civil war. 

Israel and Russia came to an agreement to allow Syrian troops along the border to quell the violence inside of Syria. Nevertheless, the Assad regime has continued to court Hezbollah. General Ali Ahmad Asa’ad, commander of the Syrian Army 1st Corps openly visited Hezbollah’s positions.