JERUSALEM, Israel – Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad captured the strategic city of Daara as part of their offensive to take over southern Syria. The fighting has presented both difficulties and opportunities for Israel.
View of Syria from Israel's northern border, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
The fierce battles have created yet another humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country. The United Nations estimates 160,000 Syrians have been displaced by the conflict. Drone footage shows the camp that's been set up to house these people. One activist called the conditions "deplorable."
The fighting centered on the southern city of Daara where Syrian troops pounded rebel positions. The offensive combines Syrian ground troops with Russian air power to regain control of southwestern Syria along the Israeli and Jordanian borders – an area that recently had been part of a US-backed truce.
IDF near the border with Syria, Photo, Screen Capture, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the crisis at his weekly cabinet meeting.
"With regards to southern Syria, we will continue to defend our borders, we will extend humanitarian assistance as much as we can, [but] we will not allow entry to our territory," Netanyahu said.
Following the fighting close to Israel's northern border, the Israel Defense Forces deployed more troops to the Golan Heights and reinforced its current positions with additional armor and artillery.
Along with increasing its military presence, the IDF launched a humanitarian operation to assist Syrians caught in the fighting. In a nighttime operation, the IDF provided 60 tons of aid to displace Syrians. The aid included tons of food, baby food, clothing and shoes sent to an undisclosed location in the Golan Heights.
IDF loads humanitarian supplies for Syrian refugees, Photo, IDF Spokesman's Office
The IDF also provided emergency medical care to a number of Syrians wounded in the fighting, including some children whose parents had been killed.
Treating Wounded Syrians, Photo, IDF Spokesman's Office
IDF medical personnel provided life-saving medical treatment and some of the victims were transferred to Israeli hospitals for further medical care.
Mother watches IDF medics helping her child, Photo, IDF Spokesman's Office
The humanitarian aid is part of Israel Good Neighbor Policy that has provided medical treatment for thousands of Syrians during the Syrian Civil War, now in its eighth year.