Press TV — July 20, 2018
The government of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has started operations to evacuate terrorists from areas near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights through yet another surrender deal.
A group of buses arrived in Syria’s southwestern Quneitra Province on Friday to transfer anti-government terrorist groups that agreed to lay down arms earlier this week, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
The deal, brokered by Russia this week, would see the terrorists hand over the territory they control in Quneitra in exchange for a safe passage to northern Syria for those who refused to live under government control.
Quneitra is a thin, crescent-shaped province wedged between the buffer zone with Israel to the west and the Syrian province of Dara’a to the east. The area bears a critical strategic significance as it border Jordan, Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights.
Since June 19, the Syrian army has been conducting a major counter-terrorism operation in both Dara’a and Quneitra provinces.
The operation has already led to the liberation of more than 90 percent of Dara’a and several key areas in Quneitra, even though as many as 140,000 people are believed to be still living there, according to the United Nations.
Israel has been on high alert in recent days as Syrian government forces advanced against foreign-backed terrorists near the Golan Heights.
The regime seized 1,200 square kilometers of Golan from Syria in 1967 and later annexed it – a move that the international community still refuses to recognize.
While Damascus has been able to retake large parts of the country through similar deals with the terrorists, it remains to be seen whether it can keep negotiating evacuation deals as it moves further north, where the situation is way more complicated due to the presence of Turkish forces, Kurdish militants and 2,000 US troops on the ground.
US, allies scramble to evacuate White Helmets
Meanwhile, the US and its Western allies are reportedly closing in on an agreement for a two-stage evacuation process to transfer hundreds of White Helmet “volunteer” aid workers out of Syria.
Two officials familiar with the plans said Thursday that the US, Britain and Canada were putting the finishing touches on a deal that would first place the workers in Syria’s neighboring countries and would then take them to third countries, including Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and possibly Canada.
The White Helmets was founded in Turkey in 2013 by former British MI5 officer James Le Mesurier.
Since its establishment, the group has received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office, $23 million or more from the US Office of Transition Initiatives and untold millions from Qatar.
Both Damascus and Moscow have accused the volunteer group of having staged the suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta region on April 7.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described the White Helmets as “a branch of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra” militant groups and a “PR stunt” by the US, the UK and France.