Speaking to Sputnik Arabic about the agreement, retired Syrian brigadier general Ali Maqsoud explained why the initiative is on Syria's side, as far as Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights is concerned.
"After sending those who disagree with the rehabilitation agreement to the country's north, the Army will restore its 2011 borders with Israel. After that, we can negotiate with Tel Aviv, including on the return of the Golan Heights to Damascus. Right now in southern Syria, the advantage is on the side of Damascus, not Tel Aviv," the officer said.
With regard to current de-escalation arrangements, the officer noted that the Syrian military has not interfered in Israel's actions in helping militants leave southern Syria through secret routes. "For the Army, the important thing now is to free the entire province [of Quneitra] and establish control. It will be good if this can be done with a minimum of destruction of buildings and infrastructure," Maqsoud noted.
The Israeli Defense Forces were put on high alert in the Golan Heights area in recent weeks amid the Syrian Army's advance toward the border. Last week, Israeli forces attacked army positions in Quneitra. On Monday, the Syrian Army reported capturing a strategic hill near the Golan Heights in an operation to mop up remaining pockets of resistance. Militants began to evacuate from southern Syria on July 15 following negotiations facilitated by the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria.