Skip To Content

Syria Withdraws Troops From Golan Heights as Rebel Groups Move In

Syria’s government has withdrawn a significant number of troops from the Golan Heights, raising Western concerns.

The redeployment of Syrian troops is the most significant in 40 years, the British daily The Guardian reported.

Rebel groups have moved into the area, leading to Israeli fears that the rebels could attack its northern border.

“They [the Syrian government] have moved some of their best battalions away from the Golan,” said a Western diplomatic source of the Syrian changes, The Guardian reported. “They have replaced some of them with poorer-quality battalions, which have involved reducing manpower. The moves are very significant.”

The troop withdrawal also could endanger the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, or UNDOF, according to the newspaper. Several countries with peacekeepers in the force reportedly are considering withdrawing their troops, including Austria. Croatia withdrew its troops in February.

“UNDOF is of the highest importance, now more than ever,” said one senior Israeli government official. “We know some participant countries are having second thoughts and we’re concerned about that.

“We are talking to them to try to understand what they plan on doing if the going gets rougher. We know some are hesitating, and it’s a problematic situation.”

Gunfire from Syria has struck Israeli territory several times, and Israel has retaliated with missile fire three times.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.