The Syrian threats come after Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman threatened to destroy Syria's entire air defense network.
Hezbollah's propaganda wing joined the international spat Sunday, publishing images of Syrian air defense equipment, including the S-200, which was fired at the IAF aircraft Friday.
Following the attack, the Syrian military claimed to have shot down one of the Israeli jets; a claim the Syrian military has made more than once following IAF airstrikes in Syrian territory.
These often erroneous claims are more than likely intended for domestic audiences within Syria, especially after the regime has taken serious criticism for not returning fire on Israel, but rather its own people.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, believes that Syria does indeed possess the capability to harm Israel. "They have chemical weapons that they have used repeatedly and they have missiles. I'm not sure a large volley of missiles could be stopped by Israeli systems. If they decide to go wild with the backing of the Russians or the Iranians, they could become very problematic."
According to Dr. Kedar, "Assad fired at the planes to prove that he could and to prove that he is retaking control not only of the ground, but also the air. That was the message."
Dr. Kedar also explained that he believes Assad actually has an interest in escalating tensions with Israel. "In order to give himself legitimacy, he wants to bring Israel into a conflict with the Iranians and the Russians. The coordination between Israel and Russia is uncomfortable for him as is the fact that the Iranians are approaching the Israeli border, yet refraining from open conflict."
(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)