The Israeli army has been put on high alert along the country’s northern border as fighting escalates between regime and opposition forces in southern Syria, Israeli media reported Friday.
“The army has raised its level of preparedness in the Golan Heights in light of the recent escalation in fighting in southern Syria and advances by the Syrian army toward the Israeli border,” Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Within this context, the newspaper noted a surprise visit to Washington on Thursday by Israeli Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot, who held a brief meeting with his U.S. counterpart.
“Israel does not expect a direct confrontation with the Syrian army,” Haaretz wrote, adding that Eizenkot’s visit had been meant to discuss possible “indirect effects” of the Assad regime’s assault on Daraa, which stands only 60 kilometers from Israel’s northern border.
According to Haaretz, Israel’s cabinet will meet on Sunday to discuss the “readiness of the home front to wage war in the north”.
For the last 10 days, Syria’s southern Daraa province has been subject to intense aerial bombardments and ground attacks, with Syrian regime forces — backed by Shia militia groups — capturing the towns of Busra al-Harir and Nahta.
The UN on Tuesday warned that as many as 750,000 lives could be at risk in Daraa.
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