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Israel Strikes Again in Syria

Walter Russell Mead

Israel has struck back in Syria, conducting air strikes against the Assad regime and Hezbollah. The Long War Journal has more:

In the wake of threats by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, the Israel Air Force (IAF) carried out two strikes against Assad regime and Hezbollah targets in Syria on Sunday and early Monday morning. These latest airstrikes come only two days after an IAF raid on Hezbollah weapons shipments in Palmyra, and seemingly as a response to an attempt by the Syrian Air Defense Forces (SADF) to shoot down the attacking Israeli jets. […]

The strikes came mere hours after Liberman threatened to destroy Syria’s air defenses “without any hesitation” the next time they fired on Israeli planes. He stressed that Israel was “neither for nor against [Syrian president Bashar] al-Assad,” and had no desire for friction with the Russians in Syria. Israel’s “main problem” he said, “is the transfer of game-changing weapons from Syria to Lebanon,” which would reach Hezbollah. “Therefore, every time we identify a such a transfer, we will act to destroy these equilibrium-breaking weapons. There will be no compromise.”

And all the Sunnis say Amen.

Israel’s latest foray into Syria (they have attacked Hezbollah there before) is a reminder of how many triggers there are in Syria right now as Assad tries to consolidate his gains. One is the possibility that Iran, in its desire to reward Hezbollah for its loyal service in the Syrian War, will arm Hezbollah to a level that crosses Israeli red lines. That could lead to a serious blowup, with Israel deciding to step up its targeting of Hezbollah within Syria. One suspects that a great many Sunnis hope that something like this happens, and that news of Israeli victories against the heretical Shia hordes will be treated with joy in much of the Gulf.

For now, Israel’s involvement in Syria is still something of a sideshow to the main conflict. But if Iran continues undeterred in arming Hezbollah or Damascus targets Israeli planes again, Israel could be pulled deeper into the fray, complicating an already crowded battlefield.

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