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West Leaning to Arm International Forces in Golan - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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London – Western diplomatic sources confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday the presence of a leaning among western states towards amending the mission of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Golan to become an armed force capable of protecting civilians, at a time when UN-Russian talks are being held to establish a “safe zone” that includes Quneitra and a part of Daraa.

According to the sources, Washington and Moscow are currently looking for the establishment of a fifth zone in the south that would be different from the four de-escalation zones that states acting as guarantors in bolstering the ceasefire in Syria have signed during the fourth round of the Astana talks, held in the Kazakh capital last month.

Washington insisted that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards should not be present in any area near Jordan or the Golan, while talks were launched to discuss amending the mission of UNDOF, established by UN Security Council Resolution 350 in 1974.

Western countries suggested that those forces be allowed to defend themselves and to protect civilians. The issue will be discussed at the Security Council at the end of this month.

A Russian source said that Moscow is working to reconcile Washington’s insistence during the US-Russia talks in Amman to keep Iran away from the south and southeastern of Syria, and Iran and the Syrian regime forces’ attempts to control areas located on both sides of the border with Iraq.

The source spoke about a possibility that both parties agree to “exchange lands” in the areas of influence that includes Deir Ezzor in exchange for Raqqa, al-Tanf crossing in exchange for al-Boukamal, and Daraa in exchange of Quneitra.

Lately, it was noticed that the advancement of regime forces and their militias towards the east witnessed a detour rather than a direct march towards al-Tanf military camp to prevent a confrontation with Washington.

The US-led coalition last week said it had destroyed a unit of pro-regime forces in Syria as they advanced near al-Tanf, an area where coalition commandos have been training and advising rebels.

On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the strikes against pro-Syrian regime forces in the past few weeks had been in self-defense and that his country would take all measures to protect its forces in Syria.