The Syrian city of Aleppo has fallen to government forces under President Assad, possibly sounding the death knells for the rebels in this 6-year civil war. Both Russia and Iran provided substantial support for Assad against the rebels and this victory makes Iran more of a threat to neighboring Israel, who does not openly support either side.
While Aleppo is close to Turkey and far from the Israeli border, now that that city has fallen to the government, attention can be directed more fully to rebel strongholds along Israel’s northern border, the Golan Heights. The map in the tweet below does not name Israel, but it can be found at the southern edge of Syria, between Lebanon and Jordan. Most of this border area is still held by rebel forces.
Hezbollah, the terror organization based in Lebanon and against which Israel fought a war in July 2006, has been assisting Assad’s government forces and running weaponry into Lebanon in preparation for another attack on Israel. The Israeli air force has been taking out as many of these convoys as possible in order to prevent this build-up of arms. According to Senior Columnist and political analyst, Ben Caspit, the air space over Syria is the most congested in the world, with air forces from Russia, Britain, the United States and Israel all operating there. There is, then, the absurd situation whereby countries supporting opposite sides in the war are coordinating their air traffic in order to prevent accidents.
While Israel cannot openly support either side in Syria’s civil war, the border with Syria on the Golan is opened to admit injured rebel soldiers and civilians cross into Israel to receive medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.
Hezbollah is Iran’s proxy in Syria and Israel is watching even more closely since the Iran and Russian backed government forces took control of Aleppo. Caspit describes the complex relationship between Israel and Russia that can either prevent Iran from trying to fulfill its dream of destroying Israel or can prevent Israel from responding to outburst of hostilities on the part of Hezbollah.
While Israel and Russia are on opposite sides of the field regarding the Syrian civil war, they have diplomatic relations that are growing in warmth and depth. In addition, the election of Trump adds a new twist to the situation as Trump is closer to Israel’s view on the Iran deal than to Obama’s view. Trump is also potentially a strong ally of Putin’s. Therefore, Russia will likely try to hold Iran off on pushing Hezbollah to attack Israel. But if that does not succeed, Russia will not support Israel’s implementation of full defensive force if that would threaten Russian influence in Syria.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Kazakhstan when Assad’s forces gained control of Aleppo.
According to Reuters, he responded to questions posed by Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev concerning the impact of that in view of Iran’s influence in the region. The Jerusalem Post quoted him as answering:
Don’t threaten us [Iran], we are not a rabbit, we are a tiger. If you threaten us you endanger yourself.
[Image: Screenshot from embedded Tweet above]
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