Interestingly, however, it's also been reported that the US told its on-the-ground proxies not to expect a military intervention from it in their support, making some wonder whether a deal may have been reached that resulted in the US walking back its previous threats or if it was just bluffing this entire time. It's unclear what's behind this curious stance given how aggressively the US has enforced the so-called "deconfliction line" along the Euphrates in northeastern Syria, and that the success of this campaign in the southwestern part of the country could return the Syrian Arab Army to the frontier of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
There were highly publicized but officially denied reports that Russia was mediating between Syria and Israel in trying to strike a deal whereby Damascus would exclude the participation of its Iranian and Hezbollah allies in this operation in exchange for Tel Aviv standing down and letting the Syrian Arab Army wipe out the remaining terrorists, though it's uncertain whether either party will abide by the terms of this "gentlemen's agreement", if there even is one. Still, this explanation — if true — would account for why neither the US nor Israel have yet to intervene even though Syria and Russia openly defied them, and despite Washington and Tel Aviv never having shown any prior reluctance to do so on previous occasions that less directly affected their interests and weren't within such close proximity to their military bases.
Another point to add is that the complete liberation of Daraa would be a very symbolic move by the Syrian Arab Army because it would return the so-called "cradle of the revolution" back to government control, therefore dealing a powerful blow to the morale of the country's remaining militants, to say nothing of the soft power effect of successfully going against Israel and the US' warnings not to even do this in the first place. Precisely because of this, however, the US and/or Israel might feel compelled to make a face-saving move in lessening the effect of this harsh hit to their international standings, seeing as how weak they would both look if this happened even if it was all part of a prearranged deal to begin with.
Steven Sahiounie, Syrian-American journalist, and Khaled Al-Kassimi, IR doctoral candidate and Near East political commentator joined our discussion.
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