Lieberman: The Syrian Regime Is Forming a New and Great Army

Israel has insisted that the Syrian army respect the 1974 ceasefire agreement reached between the two countries after the Yom Kippur War.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (AFP)

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday that the president of the Syrian regime, Bashar Al-Assad, "is not satisfied" with regaining control of southern Syria, and plans to form an army even larger than the one had prior to the civil war that has ravaged the country since 2011.

"We see the Syrian army, which is not satisfied with taking control of the entire Syrian territory, but it is clearly arming a new large-scale ground army that will return to its previous dimensions and beyond," Lieberman told reporters after to attend a military exercise of the IDF Armored Corps in the Golan Heights.

"Therefore, we are following all the developments and we are ready for any situation," he added.

The minister said the Armored Corps, which was instrumental in stopping the Syrian surprise attack in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, has continued to be essential for Israel's defense. "The Armored Corps was and will be the main force of the IDF in each ground operation, especially here in the north," he said.

Last month, Damascus forces and their allies reached the Syrian-Israeli border after defeating the opposition and ISIS, which had controlled the area in recent years, after several weeks of an extensive military campaign.

It was the first time that government forces took up positions along the border since the protests that erupted in 2011 mutated into an atrocious civil war whose course persists. In keeping with the recovery of the regime in the area, UN forces have also returned to their patrol work in the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria.

With Syrian forces now very close, and several security incidents in the area over the past few weeks, Israel has insisted that the Syrian army respect the 1974 ceasefire agreement reached between the two countries after the Yom Kippur War. The agreement limits the forces that each side can maintain in the border region.

Lieberman also expressed his support for the US decision. to impose new economic sanctions against Iran, which came into force at the first hour of this Tuesday.

"The renewal of sanctions against Iran is especially necessary for those fighting against terrorism," he said on Tuesday, arguing that the billions of dollars Tehran received in relief as a result of the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan of 2015, better known as The Nuclear Agreement, did not end up in the economy of the Islamic Republic, but in the financing of its forces established in places like Syria, Iraq or Yemen.

"Therefore, we strongly support the decision of President Trump," said the defense minister, and urged the White House to comply with its second round of sanctions, scheduled to take effect as of November 5.

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