Israel Reopens Golan Crossing With Syria

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Syria’s main crossing points with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights have both been reopened for the first time in several years.

A Syrian businessman living in Jordan was the first person to pass through the Nassib border post between Jordan and Syria when traffic resumed.

Syrian government forces recaptured the crossing from rebel fighters in July.

UN vehicles were also seen crossing into the Israel-occupied Golan near the Syrian town of Quneitra. Syrians and Jordanians expressed hope that cross-border trade would be revived.

The closure of Nassib in 2015, when it was overrun by Syrian rebel factions, cut a crucial transit route for billions of dollars of goods and had serious economic repercussions across the region.

Jordan supported the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But he now appears close to victory, months after the Syrian army defeated opposition fighters in the southern provinces of Deraa and Quneitra with the help of Russian air strikes and Iranian-backed militias.

The UN, Israel and Syria agreed to re-open the crossing as part of an effort to allow UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers to carry out their mandate to maintain a decades-old ceasefire between Israel and Syria.

Israel seized most of the Golan Heights in the closing stages of the 1967 Middle East War, and thwarted a Syrian attempt to retake it in 1973. Both countries signed a disengagement agreement in 1974, which led to the establishment of UNDOF.

After Syria’s civil war started, however, there were violations of the ceasefire with the escalation of military activity in the area of separation patrolled by UNDOF.

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