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Syrian anti aircraft missiles
Alex Fishman
Israel's free rein in Syrian skies to go after Iran
Opinion: As long as interests are aligned and understandings reached, actors in the Syrian arena stay out of each other's way, but that may not always be the case, so Jerusalem should choose its opportunities wisely
This latest bombing raid in Syria was not just another attack on Iranian and Hezbollah sites in Syrian or weapon systems earmarked for the terror group in Lebanon.

 

 

It appears to be a much wider assault on Iranian infrastructure, picking up where the 2018 Operation House of Cards left off.

 

Attack on Damascus attributed to Israel
Attack on Damascus attributed to Israel

 

Then, the Israeli government owned up to a massive bombing raid on Iran's targets in Syria and announced it had destroyed 70% of the military infrastructure it intended to send to its proxy Hebzollah in Lebanon.

 

Satellite images of damage to a Syrian facility in an alleged Israeli airstrike
Satellite images of damage to a Syrian facility in an alleged Israeli airstrike

 

With the raid that took place over night Sunday, which has been attributed to Israel, it seems like the IDF is back for the remaining 30%.

 

If in fact Israel is behind the bombing, as the Syrians claim, it could not have carried it out without an understanding with the Russians.

 

At least some of the air raids were carried out from the skies over Cyprus which is why a Syrian anti-aircraft missile ended up hitting the island.

 

aftermath of Syrian missile hitting Cyprus (Photo: EPA)
aftermath of Syrian missile hitting Cyprus (Photo: EPA)

 

Firing missiles from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea is not like using Israeli territory.

 

The attack that resulted in an Israeli F-16 downed by Syrian fire in February 2018 is a case in point.

 

Flying over the Med from Cyprus in the direction of Syria and Lebanon requires coordination with the Russian military  which has both naval and air forces operating in the area. It is obviously a result of new understandings between Israel and Russia over the "division of labor" in Syria.

 

When the Russians wanted to embarrass Israel, they made public the exact number of aircraft involved and where they fired from. This time they remained silent.

 

This new understanding was most probably secured in the meeting American, Russian and Israeli national security chiefs held in Jerusalem last week.

 

Benjamin Netanyahu with U.S. and Russian security chiefs John Bolton and Nikolai Patrushev (Photo: Reuters)
Benjamin Netanyahu with U.S. and Russian security chiefs John Bolton and Nikolai Patrushev (Photo: Reuters)

 

What do the Russians gain? For one, they gain American silence over the cruel bombing by the Syrian regime of tens of thousands of insurgents in the Idlib province, carried out with the support of the Russians, which is causing daily fatalities and complete destruction.

 

Europeans are also staying mum, and no one is appealing to the UN Security Council either.

 

A Turkish division is in position on its side of the Syrian border near Idlib, waiting but not yet taking action against Assad's forces. That is also a result of the trilateral understandings reached in Jerusalem.

 

Everyone seems to be getting along now, and Israel has free rein to coutneract Iranian and Hezbollah entrenchment in Syria and Lebanon.

 

Moscow's silence confirms it is in its interest to cooperate with the United States and Israel in Syria.

 

But interests will change down the road. Israel has a narrow window of opportunity which it should use wisely and efficiently, staying true to the understandings reached with Moscow, so that the all-too familiar Russian cold shoulder is not turned their way again soon.

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 07.02.19, 12:44
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