Rising tensions over Syria risk direct Iranian-Israeli confrontation

Cheryl Sanders
April 19, 2018

Tel Aviv - In the U.S., President Trump declared a "mission accomplished" over the weekend after the U.S. and allies attacked a Syrian chemical weapons center in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack outside of Damascus.

While not claiming responsibility for the T-4 strike, Israel has restated a policy of preventing Iran setting up a Syrian garrison. Then, a mysterious attack on an Iranian drone base in Syria killed seven members of the Iranian Quds Force, including the Iranian colonel who commanded the drone unit.

The Israeli military released on Tuesday maps and aerial footage of Iranian military positions in Syria, in what was interpreted as a new Israeli threat against Tehran.

I'm anxious about Iran, and Syria is increasingly a major threat to US interests and to Israel's interests in the region. In this case, the possibility of a great-power confrontation, along the lines of the U.S. Why hasn't Israel come out and confirmed this? That concern grew considerably when the Trump administration agreed with Russia to permit an Iranian presence, under Russian supervision, in the cease-fire zone in southern Syria a year ago.

Arguably the biggest immediate danger lies not in a direct confrontation between Russian Federation and the U.S., but in belligerence between Israel and Iran, which could well spark a conflict that envelops the entire region. Moreover, despite the overt hostility between it and Iran, Israel did not attempt to undermine the Iranians in Syria as long as they confined themselves to supporting Assad.

The Pentagon denied there being new USA military activity in the area.

It is reported by the Arabic portal of "al-Masdar" referring to the Syrian military.

Israel has conducted military operations in Syria, risking conflict with Russian Federation or Iran, to enforce those red lines, Doran said.

These Israeli defense officials say there is zero chance Israel will make the same mistake it made in Lebanon - letting Hezbollah establish a large missile threat there - by letting Iran do so in Syria. Their ambitions are big - to create a base to pressure Israel directly, to dominate the Arab states around them and to maintain the fervor of the Islamic Revolution.

The Pentagon denied any American military activity in the area.

Chemical weapons are undoubtedly a curse, and it is acknowledged that their use in Syria has not been restricted to the Assad regime. The U.S. ground presence in Syria is very limited and located in the northeast of the country - far removed from Israel's border with Syria.

Days before Western airstrikes against the Syrian regime last week, Israel is believed to have carried out its own attack on the regime's T4 airbase in central Syria on April 9. But Obama wanted to treat everyone equally at a round table, and Trump prefers more of a rectangular table with USA allies on one side and enemies on the other.

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