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IDF forms new unit to create ties with local Syrians living close to Israeli border as future of Assad regime remains in doubt.
By Arutz Sheva Staff
First Publish: 5/29/2016, 3:12 PM
While the plan may seem far-fetched, the idea draws heavily from a similar operation conducted during Israel’s presence in southern Lebanon, when the IDF worked to forge ties with elements of the Lebanese population.
Like Lebanon in the 1980s, Syria’s civil war has left large swaths of the country without effective governmental control.
While in many cases local governments or armed militias divided along confessional lines have stepped in to fill the vacuum, such areas are susceptible to terrorist infiltration or takeover.
Much like the status quo ante prior to the war in Lebanon, where PLO cells operated freely across much of the Lebanese-Israel frontier, Israeli security officials fear the chaos along the Israeli-Syrian border could give ISIS – or Iran – the perfect opportunity to strike northern Israel.
The Syrian frontier with Israel is largely beyond the control of the Syrian government, with various rebel factions and local militias controlling much of the border area, while the Al-Nusra terrorist group maintains a presence near the southern Golan Heights.
Many of the neighboring villages are Syrian Druze, and it is likely that as during the Lebanese civil war, the IDF will seek an understanding with ethnic minorities living along the Israeli border, like the Druze.