After shooting down an Iranian drone that penetrated its airspace last Saturday, the Israeli air force carried out retaliatory air strikes on Iranian and government targets in Syria, losing an F-16 fighter jet to Syrian anti-aircraft fire in the process.
Taken individually, each one of the clashes has the potential to turn into something more risky. The Iranians feel, and probably for good reason, they can take more risks in Syria than they can in Iran and even Lebanon. "We inflicted on Saturday a heavy blow to Iranian and Syrian forces", he said. "But. we've gotten to a level not reached before, and it's all coming at once".
Another reality, less comfortable to accept than ISIS being defeated, is that the Syrian regime, with the help of its Russian and Iranian supporters, is the victor of this civil war.
It isn't news that Iran and Israel are at each other's throats. Iran entered the conflict in 2011 to help prop up Assad's regime as it faced growing nationwide protests.
"As the Assad regime gains the upper hand, Hezbollah probes the southwest and Iran seeks to augment its partners' military capacities".
The skirmishes didn't tip into war because of the intervention of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Putin's number one operational goal in Syria is to stabilize and prop up the Assad regime, including the return of previously rebel or ISIS held territory under regime control", Alina Polyakova, a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Foreign Policy Program, said in an email. Will President Trump respond as expected by our Middle Eastern "ally"?
In the northwest, Turkey has sent its Syrian allies to attack Afrin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened Manbij, 80 miles to the east, where US troops commingle with the Kurd defenders and USA generals were visible last week. Syria and Iraq were going to be monopolized and ruled by ISIS and other terrorist groups, so that Syria's common borders with occupied Palestine would have become safer for the Zionists.
To recapture oil fields lost in the war, forces backed by Assad crossed the Euphrates into territory taken from ISIS by the USA and our Kurd allies. One is a desire to have secure road links to Mediterranean ports after the Syrian civil war is over.
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"As Syria enters a unsafe and much more volatile phase, it's going to be characterized by key stakeholders seeking to stake their hold on the ground, ensure their interests are protected", Mona Yacoubian, the senior adviser for Syria, the Middle East, and North Africa at the U.S. Institute of Peace, told me. While none of the parties involved have an interest in a full-scale military conflict, the conflict of interests is too fundamental to have been fully resolved. Turkey will try not to allow a semi-autonomous region on its border.
The Iranians have also concluded that since the convoys delivering military supplies to Hezbollah are vulnerable to constant Israeli attacks, they should establish military industry facilities in Syria and Lebanon, where they can manufacture their own components to build precision-guided missiles and rockets, greatly amplifying the strategic threat Israel faces.
Keeping U.S. forces in areas that Assad's government hopes to reclaim inherently increases the probability of more clashes. Russian Federation wants to preserve Assad's position-and its own as a power broker in the Middle East.
"I told him that Israel views two developments with utmost gravity: First is Iran's efforts to establish a military presence in Syria, and second is Iran's attempt to manufacture- in Lebanon-precision weapons against the State of Israel", he said after the meeting.
Bibi and the FDD want to see USA power deployed alongside that of Israel, against Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah.
A view of the border between Lebanon (left) and Israel near the village of Kfar Kila, Feb. 7, 2018. In each of those cases so far, a potential escalation has been forestalled.
The U.S. and Turkey, allies for six decades, with the largest armies in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, may soon be staring down each other's gun barrels. Israel then retaliated with airstrikes on eight Syrian and four Iranian military targets within Syria.
But as IS shrinks, the estimated 2,000 US troops stationed in Syria find themselves caught in a highly unpredictable and shifting battlefield, as demonstrated by an unexpected attack by pro-Assad fighters on USA -backed forces who were accompanied by USA advisers in Deir el-Zour. "This is while the facts point to Iran's honest efforts to de-escalate tension in Syria, at the same time as the U.S. government tries to prevent any such efforts", Iran's mission to the United Nations said in statement on Wednesday. But, she added, "I think many investors need to see the track record on these reforms".