Syria’s envoy to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, has said that Israel helped transfer terrorist militants who had previously been evacuated from the Golan Heights to other countries, including the United States.
The envoy also called for the withdrawal of US troops from Syrian territory: “We demand that the US and all its allies immediately leave the entire territory of Syria because their presence is illegal.”
The incident in question is Israeli forces’ recent evacuation of hundreds of members of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated “White Helmets” group and their families from southern Syria to Jordan at the request of several Western countries.
The Syrian government says that the “White Helmets NGO” has cooperated with terrorists and planned several chemical attacks to incriminate Damascus. In Damascus’ words, Israel’s evacuation aid was a “criminal operation.”
Jaafari also called out Turkey, saying that Ankara has not met its obligations to the de-escalation zone in the northern regions of Syria.
“Turkey does not fulfill its obligations in the province of Idlib … the Turkish authorities have sent heavily armed forces, and we all witnessed Turkey’s military actions in this region, as in Afrin, which they occupied, and occupied other settlements,” Jaafari said.
Syria’s diplomat pointed out that Turkey has violated its obligations under the Astana agreements, and added that the country has even introduced the Turkish lira into regions that are not controlled by Damascus.
With southern Syria virtually liberated from terrorist organizations by the Syrian Army, pro-government forces are now preparing for the long-anticipated operation against jihadist-held Idlib province.
Ankara is against the operation, as such poses two threats: (1) it could lead to thousands of jihadists pouring into Turkey to avoid the Syrian Army’s onslaught; (2) the very same terrorist groups on Syrian territory that Turkey has invested billions of dollars in alongside occupation operations, could be completely routed. Either option spells bad news for Turkey that has seen its power projection into Syria defeated and has seen the growth of Kurdish separatists in both Syria and Turkey.
As Syria denounces its neighbors’ aggressive actions and eyes liberating occupied territories, the role of mediating between different actors in the conflict will most likely fall to Russia, which has been the major driving force behind the defeat of foreign-backed terrorist forces in Syria since its intervention in September 2015.