Military Capabilities

Syrian government advance towards border with occupied Golan risks provoking major Israeli military response

13 July 2018

Key Points

  • Opposition factions resisting reconciliation, and up to 234,000 displaced civilians, are likely to be pushed into the demilitarised zone along Syria’s border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
  • Syria is likely to stop short of moving into the demilitarised zone, but will probably test Israel’s commitment by advancing towards the zone and engaging opposition forces located within it.
  • Israel will respond in kind to any stray fire into the Golan Heights, holding the Syrian government responsible, regardless of whether it was initiated by Iranian forces or non-state groups.
  • Rockets fired from Syria into Israel proper and causing Israeli civilian casualties would most likely provoke a major Israeli military response in Syria, aimed at forcing President Assad to implement an Iranian withdrawal from Syria.


Syrian government forces and Russian military police units took control of the formerly opposition-held parts of Deraa city on 12 July, following a reconciliation agreement.

The recapture of Deraa city, where the Syrian uprising began in 2011, follows two weeks of rapid territorial gains by the Syrian government in Deraa and Suwayda provinces east of the M5 highway, which include the Naseeb border crossing with Jordan. President Bashar al-Assad is winning the civil war and remains committed to re-establishing control over all of Syria, with backing from Russia and Iran. What remains of the Syrian opposition is now concentrated in the northwestern province of Idlib, where a Turkish military presence is deterring further government advances.

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