The US State Department vowed on Thursday to deliver a decisive response if the Syrian Army launches an operation in the southern de-escalation zone.
US diplomacy urged Russia to prevent the Syrian government from carrying out an offensive in the region, threatening to react.
This threat follows Russia, the US and Jordan’s agreement last July to establish so-called de-escalation zones in the provinces of Dara’a, Quneitra and Suwayda in southwestern Syria.
“The United States remains concerned about reports of imminent Syrian operations in southwestern Syria within the boundaries of the de-escalation zone,” the State Department said. “We again affirm that the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to violations of the Syrian government in this area.”
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad explained in an interview with Iran’s Al-Alam TV on Wednesday that the liberation of southern Syria has not yet been defined in Syrian policy – such might eventually be through peaceful or military solutions.
“South Syria is facing a choice, whether it is reconciliation or liberation by force. At this moment, there are no results [of the peace process] because of the US and US pressure on terrorists in that region. Reconciliation and the peaceful solution could be reached,” the Syrian state agency SANA reported, citing Assad.
Earlier, local media reported that Syrian government forces have been re-deployed from Damascus and other parts of Syria to the southern front. The forces deployed include the Republican Guard – an elite unit of the Syrian Army, mainly responsible for defending Damascus – and a paramilitary group associated with Syria’s intelligence apparatus, according to Al Masdar News.
A possible Syrian offensive could aim to liberate the whole of southern Syria, including the territory near the Golan Heights occupied by Israel. This month, a Syrian anonymous military source told Sputnik that “Hezbollah resistance fighters and other Iranian-backed foreign militias” will play no role in the next Syrian Army offensive in the area.