Hezbollah to move into south Syria, just across Israel border
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Hezbollah to move into south Syria, just across Israel border

IDF says it’s watching and ‘prepared for any scenario’ as the Shiite terror group sets up shop next door

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Members of Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah hold their flags during the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter, who was killed while fighting alongside Syrian government forces in Syria, March 1, 2016. (AFP/MAHMOUD ZAYYAT)
Members of Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah hold their flags during the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter, who was killed while fighting alongside Syrian government forces in Syria, March 1, 2016. (AFP/MAHMOUD ZAYYAT)

Hezbollah fighters are preparing to move into southern Syria, a stone’s throw from the border with Israel’s Golan Heights, Iranian state media reported Monday.

“Hezbollah has deployed a large number of its forces at Quneitra passage which has connected the Syrian territories to the occupied Golan,” unnamed sources told the semi-official Fars news agency.

According to the sources, the Hezbollah fighters will be taking part in an “anti-terrorism” operation with Syrian ruler Bashar Assad’s army to fight the various militant groups located in the Syrian Golan Heights.

The IDF would not comment specifically on the reports that Hezbollah would be taking positions close to the Israeli border, but said it “closely monitors all of Israel’s borders, including in the north, and remains prepared for any scenario.”

The Syrian Army, the Fateh al-Sham Front and the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army have been waging a bloody war in southern Syria, which occasionally spills over into Israeli territory.

The salafist Fateh al-Sham Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, is the new name for the group formerly known as the al-Nusra Front.

The group changed its name on July 28, the same day it was recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States and Iran. The next day Russia joined them in declared it terrorist and the day after that, the United Nations followed suit.

Similarly, the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army is another successor to a terrorist organization that had been operating out of the Syrian Golan Heights in recent months: the Yarmouk Martyr’s Brigade.

In May, the Islamic State-affiliated Yarmouk Martyr’s Brigade merged with two smaller IS groups in the area, the Islamic Muthanna Movement and the Army of Jihad, to form the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army.

“The Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters have been working on a joint plan to end militancy in Southern Syria, particularly near the Golan Heights,” the sources told Fars.

An attempt by the United States and Russia to broker a partial peace deal in Syria fell through this week, though both sides said they were committed to continuing the effort.

Washington and Moscow support opposing sides in the five-year conflict, which has killed upwards of 300,000 people and forced millions to flee.

AFP contributed to this report.

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