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Citizens of Syria called on Israel to intervene after Basher Assad’s forces took control of Deraa, the birthplace of the rebellion against the Syrian president.
“I wish the Israelis were here to protect these people, under the banner of the United Nations or the Israeli flag … I do not know how, but the politicians must solve this problem,” said a Syrian source to TPS news agency.
The same source mentioned that the local councils of Deraa and Qantara on the Golan Heights called on Israel to open its borders to refugees or to enter Syria to protect the attacked Syrian people.
Syrian citizens stand and protest near the border fence asking Israel to protect them or to allow an international force to intervene, according to the Syrian source.
“We toured the border and saw the tents of the Syrian refugees. We are ready to grant any humanitarian assistance but we are not willing to accept any refugees in our territory,” said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman during a tour of the Golan Heights with senior IDF officers.
Syrian State television said the army hoisted a flag near the Deraa post office, the only government building in the portion of the city that had been held by rebels since the early days of the uprising that began there in 2011 with large protests.
Government forces backed by Russian air strikes have recovered swathes of Deraa province in the last three weeks, advancing unopposed by Assad’s Western and regional foes into the strategically vital region near Jordan and Israel.
It marks another milestone in Assad’s efforts to recover control of Syria, where civil war is estimated to have killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven some 11 million people from their homes.
The campaign in the southwest is now expected to target rebel-held enclaves at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israel signaled it would not impede the offensive, even as it struck Syrian army posts near the frontier in retaliation for a drone incursion.
With critical help from Russia and Iran, Assad has now recovered most of Syria. Anti-Assad rebels still control a chunk of the northwest, and the northeast and a large chunk of the east are controlled by Kurdish-led militia.
As Assad pursues military victory, there appears to be little hope of a negotiated peace which Western governments say is needed to bring stability and encourage refugees to return.