Acceptance of Israeli action in Syria 

Source: Acceptance of Israeli action in Syria – www.israelhayom.com

The Russians and the Syrian regime, albeit more discreetly, have reservations about Iran’s presence in the country. The sense in Israel, therefore, is that a window of opportunity now exists for pushing Iran out of Syria or at least significantly minimizing its activities there.

The attack attributed to Israel’s air force early Saturday indicates that Israeli policy in Syria hasn’t changed now that the elections are over: No to Iranian entrenchment, and no to precision missiles in the hands of Hezbollah.

The target, according to Syrian media outlets, was located in the city of Masyaf, in Hama province. The Israeli air force, the reports said, has attacked various facilities, used by Iranian forces, in the same area at least five times over the past two years.

This time, it appears, the main target was the site where the Iranians have manufactured precision missiles for Hezbollah. We can assume the missiles were earmarked for transfer to Lebanon although Iran also intends to arm its other Shiite militias operating in Syria with similar missiles.

Hezbollah’s precision missile project, which Iran is carrying out, lies at the heart of Israeli activity in recent years. Iran wants Hezbollah to have precision capabilities – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, last year, mentioned a precision radius of approximately 10 yards – and simultaneously extend the range of some of the terrorist group’s missiles. Israel has already been blamed for several attacks on facilities where this activity is occurring, including the attack last September in western Syria that triggered the chain of events which led to the downing of a Russian spy plane by Syrian army air defenses.

The attack early Saturday morning went smoothly from an Israeli perspective – neither Syria nor Russia responded in a significant manner. We can glean from this that Russia has come to terms, for now, with this activity, as long as it doesn’t endanger Russian forces stationed in Syria. The Israeli air force is likely taking pains to avoid, as much as possible, any friction with Syrian surface-to-air batteries, in order to circumvent further scenarios that could spark another diplomatic clash with Russia.

Israel’s policy of being proactive against Iran and its proxies is also unlikely to change for the time being. Regardless, the new government – and the next defense minister – will have to re-examine this activity within the context of new developments in Syria as it concludes its eight-year civil war; along with possible Iranian military intervention in Iraq and efforts to relocate its precision missile factories to Lebanon. In the past year, Israel has exposed four such factories – three of these, which were built secretly in Beirut, were revealed by Netanyahu in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly. The fourth factory, according to various news outlets, was reported in March to the Americans, who addressed the matter with the Lebanese government.

The sense in Israel is that a window of opportunity now exists for pushing Iran out of Syria or at least significantly minimizing its activities there. This window, beyond Russian reservations over Iranian activity (not to mention the Syrian regime’s own reservations, although these aren’t voiced publicly), is open because of American support and last week’s designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization by the Trump administration. The hope in Israel is that a combination of military, diplomatic, economic and media-related activity can now thwart Iran’s machinations.

 

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