Last week, Israeli Special Forces carried out a covert operation in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between Syria and Israel and destroyed two Syrian outposts. News of this operation became public on Tuesday.
IDF Special Forces from the Nachal and Yahalom units crossed into the demilitarized zone, destroyed the outposts with explosives, and re-entered Israel before being spotted. According to a Yahalom commander, the soldiers blew up the outposts simultaneously.
The operations occurred because Israel claims that Syria has continuously violated the U.S.-brokered 1974 disengagement agreement between the two countries. The agreement determines a designated buffer zone on the Israeli-Syrian border. The zone is to only be occupied by a special U.N. force called the Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). Thus, the presence of Syrian troops in the zone is in violation of the agreement.
Nevertheless, the operation’s main goal was the deterrence of Syria’s collaboration with Hezbollah. “We’re aware of the collaboration between the Syrian military and Hezbollah,” Nachal commander Lt. Col. Tal Goritsky said. “Every military establishment by Syria has the potential to be a dual military establishment. We won’t allow southern Syria to become southern Lebanon.”
“An operation like this required extreme focus,” said Captain Michael Zilberg of the Nachal. “As soon as you cross the border, your pulse quickens. You’re facing the enemy. We were about 500 meters from a manned position.”
Avichay Adraee, the Israeli army’s Arabic-language spokesman, tweeted, “The operation came in the wake of the Syrian army’s breach of the disengagement agreement, which prohibits it from positioning itself in the area of separation.” Adraee posted video footage of the operation, saying that it took place in the north of the Golan Heights. He added that Syrian regime forces had used the outposts for reconnaissance and “routine security.”
Syrian rebel and Islamist groups had previously controlled areas near the Golan Heights. Yet, in 2018 the Assad regime re-established its control over the entire Syrian side of the buffer zone.
Far-right Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman, who was the country’s defense minister at the time, had expressed approval of the Syrian regime’s return to the area.