U.N. Peacekeepers Vacate Golan Zone Between Syria and Israel
The strategy of the rebel forces attacking the Golan buffer zone between Syria and Israel could be a mistake. No doubt the rebel forces doing the attack seek to create more instability in the region and obtain key crossings where roads cross into either country.
The over 900 man U.N peacekeeping force on the Golan was created after the Israelis had counterattacked during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. This counterattack came only after Syria had almost crushed Israel with its 600 tank assault across the Golan, to which the IDF was not prepared for. The IDF counterattack seemed like a miracle, from the ashes of near defeat, the IDF regathered and crossed into Syria and came within 20 miles of Damascus. Assad's father was Syria's leader at the time. It was only after Russia threatened to use nuclear weapons that halted the advance.
That end the war and the Golan buffer zone was created and manned by the U.N. volunteer peacekeepers. Rebel forces have now attacked the key crossing at Qunietra. The peacekeepers are lightly armed at best. The U.N. force there was from Austria. Unable to repel the attack, Syrian military units intervened to restore the status quo. Four rebel groups, probably from al-Nusra, conducted the attack and the force tried to enter the zone occupied by Israeli security forces with little success. The attack came in the early morning when 200 pickers were harvesting cherries.
Because the attack, Austria has pulled its peacekeeping force out of the Golan. This means, only two other countries have troops there-the Philippines and India. The Philippine force may also pull out since the rebels have abducted several of their men. Austria's pull out will create a vacuum unless more countries are willing to send troops.
While creating instability may be the goal of the rebels, they may be hoping to draw Israel into the civil war to widen it and turn the war one that is against Israel and not Assad, while other rebel units try to take Assad out. There is no doubt that Hezbollah might cross from Lebanon or launch missiles across the border as well. The whole area is rapidly disintegrating as time goes on. US marines (1200) have been deployed in Jordan along with F-16s and Patriot missiles. Assad is receiving shipments of S-300 missiles and soon will get Mig-29M.
It seems like the region will soon engulf others. What began as a quest for freedom in Syria has turned into something far different.