New fronts emerge in Syria as Assad, allies push for victory

New fronts emerge in Syria as Assad, allies push for victory

A day after Israeli, Syrian and Iranian forces were involved in a major military confrontation-that left an Israeli F-16 shot down, along with an Iranian drone, and multiple Syrian air defenses destroyed-the dust has begun to settle and the bigger picture is emerging. Moreover, Israel does not have the same backing as usual from its American benefactors.

Joshua S. Block is CEO and president of The Israel Project. Netanyahu says Israel won't tolerate Iran's quest for a permanent military foothold on its doorstep.

Candidate Donald Trump may have promised to extricate us from Middle East wars, once ISIS and al Qaeda were routed, yet events and people seem to be conspiring to keep us endlessly enmeshed.

Last week, Iran used a technologically advanced drone - reverse-engineered from a US drone captured in 2011 - to penetrate Israel's airspace.

Israel responded by sending eight F-16 fighter jets into Syria to destroy the drone's command-and-control center.

Washington's lead diplomat said the USA was "quite concerned" by a recent confrontation that saw ally Israel bomb what it described as Iranian targets in Syria. Will the air force use them in the next round, following statements by Syria and Hezbollah that "additional surprises" await Israel if it attacks again? From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army's Strategic Studies Institute.

Observing Israel's shifting strategic methods and the change in Iran's agenda makes it possible to construe Tel Aviv's next escalating move. The question now is whether the Trump administration will go further.

Tillerson is due to meet Lebanon's political leadership in Beirut Thursday, with the US concerned about the influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah which it designates a "terrorist" organisation.

The brief military eruption between Israel and Syria from February 8-10 received little notice amid Washington's political maneuvering, attendant to budgets, immigration reform and investigations.

The FDD is an annex of the Israeli lobby and a charter member of the War Party.

As The Washington Post pointed out, "In the space of a single week last week, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Israel lost aircraft to hostile fire" in Syria.

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A screenshot showing the destruction of the Iranian drone a few seconds after it was hit by an Israeli missile.

If Tehran did, it would be an act of monumental stupidity.

Last Saturday, an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace and the Israeli air force shot down the drone.

Moreover, in recent months Iranian policy-suspending patrol boat harassment of USA warships-appears crafted to ease tensions and provide no new causes for Trump to abandon the nuclear deal Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani regards as his legacy.

Another reality, less comfortable to accept than ISIS being defeated, is that the Syrian regime, with the help of its Russian and Iranian supporters, is the victor of this civil war.

A good starting point is to recognize that while the USA needs to do more to contain Iran in Syria, the administration is moving in the right direction on Iran - regarding the nuclear deal, and in its response to other aspects of Iranian behavior. One hears from US officials much talk about how that last two percent of ISIS-held territory needs to be recaptured, but this perspective makes the mistake of treating the problem of this group as if it were exclusively a military problem of seizing ground.

There are, however, a number of reasons the advanced platform was kept on its leash during the weekend's air campaign, primary among them being an expected software update the fighter is supposed to receive before being put into combat operations, though those familiar with the platform have stated that the jet would have managed Syrian air space well despite the outdated software. Ankara views the Kurds as an extension of a group that has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey, and has threatened to advance on Manjib, another Kurdish-controlled area where USA troops are based. "But. we've gotten to a level not reached before, and it's all coming at once". The most serious existential threat to the Jewish State by non-state entities is the terrorist group Hezbollah, with 150,000 missiles which, according to the general, is a "rare and substantial firepower apparently even exceeded the firepower possessed by most of the European states combined".

Another reserve officer theorized that the types of weapons used against the targets, which included the Syrian air force's T-4 base, had not yet been installed in the F-35s' weapons bays.

Clearly, we have an obligation not to abandon the Kurds, who took most of the casualties in liberating eastern Syria from ISIS.

But this calls for active diplomacy, not military action.

"The specter of the world's worst civil war in decades is becoming demonstrably worse by the week - and even more complicated by the actions of outside forces - creating a ideal storm of chaos and suffering in Syria", the Soufan Center said in an analysis of the situation. What would victory look like?

Russian officials defend Iran's military presence in Syria as legitimate. But while Israel's interests are clear, what would be the USA vital interest?

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