December 24, 2018
The Israeli (L) and Syrian (C) flags flutter at the crossing between the Israeli-controlled side of the annexed Golan Heights and Syria after the reopening of the only crossing between the two sides near Quneitra on October 15, 2018 [JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images]
Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta said that Israel is preparing for a comprehensive war on Syria following the US’ withdrawal from the country.
The newspaper said that the decision of US President Donald Trump to withdraw American troops from Syria has left Israel forced to face the Iranian presence in Syria with its troops alone.
The newspaper quoted Israel’s former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying that “the United States’ withdrawal from Syria greatly increases the likelihood of a large-scale conflict in the north, whether in Lebanon or Syria”.
Lieberman added that “the Americans’ departure will raise the morale of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and his allies, Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah.”
The Russian daily quoted Russian military expert Yuri Liamin as saying that “Iran cannot interpret this decision as a blank cheque”.
“We must not forget that Turkey is now threatening to launch a new military operation against the Syrian Kurds. This operation may lead to real Turkish control over a significant part of northern Syria. Such development is unlikely to please the Syrian authorities and its Iranian ally,” he added.
Last Wednesday, the United States announced that it had decided to withdraw its troops from Syria, with Trump announcing on Twitter: “We have defeated ISIS [Daesh] in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”
US media said the decision came after a telephone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following the announcement of an anticipated Turkish military operation against Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), east of the Euphrates River, which Ankara considers a terrorist group.