On Wednesday, Jan. 27 a large Hizballah force entered the southern Syrian town of Daraa, a critically dangerous event for Israel’s security. The way to the town, which lies near the Jordanian border and across from the Israeli Golan, was opened before Hizballah by none other than Russian forces. This was a blatant violation of President Vladimir Putin’s commitments to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah not to permit Iranian and Iran-backed forces, such as Hizballah and Iraqi and Afghani Shiite militias, reach their borders in consequence of Russia’s military intervention in the Syria war.

Daraa is just 32 km from the southern Golan and 12 km from the Jordanian border. Hizballah forces in this town are therefore within easy striking distance from northern Israeli and Jordan. What happened Wednesday was that a sizeable Hizballah contingent made it into Daraa, the day after a Syrian unit under the command of Russian officers captured the town of Sheikh Maskin, cutting off rebel forces east of Daraa from their comrades to the west. Control of Sheikh Maskin is the key to the crossroads leading to Damascus in the north, the Druze Mountain town of es-Suwaida in the east, and Quneitra on Golan opposite Israel’s northern defenses. FULL REPORT