Israel could formally endorse Damascus' control over southern Syria in exchange for Russia negotiating with Iran on pulling back armed groups affiliated with it from the Golan Heights, The Washington Post reported, citing sources in the White House. According to the newspaper, the deal was struck between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was later discussed at the summit between US President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
The Washington Post's sources claimed that Netanyahu came up with the deal following the Syrian army's recent advances in the southern province of Daara and after realizing that the US won't be putting boots on the ground there, preferring to withdraw from Syria.
According to the anonymous sources, the deal stipulates that Israel will agree to Damascus taking control over the southern provinces and border with Israel. In exchange, Moscow reportedly promised to persuade Iran to keep groups that it has control over in Syria at least 80km (50 miles) away from the border. Moreover, Moscow allegedly also promised to not openly object to the Israeli Air Force striking Iran's positions in Syria if it deploys strategic missiles or anti-aircraft systems.
The Washington Post noted that its sources do not have all the information pertaining to the deal and are not sure if Trump has given his support to it, as the US president hasn't briefed them fully on the contents of his talks with Putin in Helsinki.
The US and Russian presidents discussed reaching peace in Syria and securing the Syrian border with Israel to ensure its security, agreeing to cooperate on the matter. Vladimir Putin has urged for the situation in the Golan Heights to return to that prescribed in the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement, which stipulated the creation of a buffer zone between Syrian and Israeli forces under the supervision of the UN Disengagement Observer Force.
Relations between Tehran and Tel Aviv have historically been tense as the former doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist, while the latter claims that Iran is developing nuclear weapons in order to destroy it. In addition to this, Israel has accused Iran of having a military presence in Syria that it intends to use against Israel. Tehran denies the allegations, claiming that it is only sending military advisors and humanitarian aid to the Arab Republic.