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Welcome to the archives of Syria Deeply. While we paused regular publication of the site on May 15, 2018, and transitioned some of our coverage to Peacebuilding Deeply, we are happy to serve as an ongoing public resource on the Syrian conflict. We hope you’ll enjoy the reporting and analysis that was produced by our dedicated community of editors contributors.

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Executive Summary for May 1st

We review they key developments in Syria, including Israel laying out some red lines for Iran in Syria, the U.S. saying it won’t pull out from the country until peace is won, and evacuations underway from the Yarmouk camp south of Damascus.

Published on May 1, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Israel Lays out Red Lines for Iran in Syria After Missile Strike

A senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday laid out four “red lines” that would prompt Israeli military action against Iranian targets in Syria, Bloomberg reported.

The remarks by Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for public diplomacy, come after Israel was accused of launching a missile attack on military outposts in northern Syria on Sunday. The targets include an arms depot containing surface-to-surface missiles belonging to Iranian militias in Hama province and a military airport in Aleppo.

The strike killed more than a dozen pro-government forces, mostly Iranian military personnel.

Israel has not confirmed or denied responsibility for the strike. But Oren on Monday said that Israel will stop Iran from trying to build underground factories to upgrade sophisticated missiles to precision-guided weapons, “even if those factories are beneath densely populated areas.”

Speaking to a group of foreign journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories, Oren said that Israel won’t allow Iran to transfer precision-guided missiles to its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. He also noted that Tel Aviv would try to obstruct Iranian attempts to build an airbase or naval port in Syria.

Israel will also strike Syria or even Iran if it’s fired at by Iranian-backed forces, Oren said.

“Israel is committed to enforcing and holding its red lines,” Oren said. “If that leads to an escalation, it will be on the heads of Iran and not the state of Israel. We have to defend ourselves.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a veiled threat following Sunday’s missile strike. He said on Monday that the time when Tehran’s enemies can “hit and run” is over, according to the Associated Press.

“They know if they enter military conflict with Iran, they will be hit multiple times,” he added.

Mattis: U.S. Won’t Pull out From Syria Before Peace Deal

U.S. defense secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday that the U.S. would not pull out of Syria until its diplomats have “won the peace,” Reuters reported.

“We do not want to simply pull out before the diplomats have won the peace. You win the fight – and then you win the peace,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

His comments come after U.S. president Donald Trump said last week that he was seeking to withdraw forces from Syria relatively soon.

Reuters described the comments by Mattis as “one of the strongest signs yet a full U.S. withdrawal” is unlikely in the short term.

Evacuations Under Way From Yarmouk Camp

Roughly 200 people, including al-Qaida-linked militants and their families, arrived in northern Syria on Tuesday after being evacuated from an enclave in southern Damascus, according to a war monitor.

The United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that fighters from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance and their families reached a crossing south of Aleppo at dawn on Tuesday after evacuating the besieged Yarmouk camp.

The transfer comes as part of an evacuation deal reached between militants and the Syrian government on Sunday that grants fighters safe passage to the north. In return, militants would allow thousands of people to leave the two government-held Shiite villages, Fou’a and Kafraya, which are besieged by rebel forces.

Ambulances carrying five medical evacuees and 18 of their relatives exited Fou’a and Kafraya on Tuesday as part of the deal, Syria’s state-run SANA news agency said.

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