The reports streaming out of Israel and Syria paint a clear turning point in the tense relationship between the two countries. Despite differences in reports and who is repsonsible, what is clear is that an Iranian military drone took off from a Syrian base that is also manned by Russian soldiers and flew into Israeli airspace.
The Israeli airforce (IAF) shot down the drone and then went on to destroy the UAV base it took off from.
The drone incident led to a barrage of Israeli airstrikes on Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria. Syria responded with heavy anti-aircraft fire that set off multiple warning sirens in Israel. Syria used its Russian supplied S-200 air defense system and fired at Israeli F-16s downing one. The two pilots ejected and landed in Israeli territory. and managed to down an Israeli F-16 in Israeli territory, seriously wounding a pilot.
The IAF said the battle began with the Iranian drone violating Israeli airspace before being destroyed by a combat helicopter over the city of Beit Shean, near the Jordanian border.
In retaliation to the downing of its F-16, the IAF attacked 12 known Iranian installations in Syria. Many of these bases are acknowledged by Russian military to be used by the Iranian Al Quds forces.
Moments ago, IAF aircraft, targeted the Syrian Aerial Defense System & Iranian targets in Syria. 12 targets, including 3 aerial defense batteries & 4 Iranian military targets, were attacked. Anti-aircraft missiles were fired towards Israel, triggering alarms in northern Israel
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) February 10, 2018
Prime Minister Netanyahu said the following about today’s incident:
“I have been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel. This morning Iran brazenly violated Israel’s sovereignty. They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel. And this demonstrates that our warnings were 100% correct. Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today’s aggression. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security.”
Clear Russian Involvement Should Worry Everyone
With Russia’s involvement in allowing an Iranian drone to take off from a UAV base it commondeers with Syria, the prospects for aregional conflagration spiralling out of control have increased considerably. More than that, Moscow has seemingly decided to push back against the US strike that took place on February 8th against Shiite troops in Eastern Syria that killed Russian troops as well.
Russia seemingly thought that the IAF would not reatliate as it did, which triggered a serious knee jerk respinse from Syria. The deeper issue is Putin’s move to back up his erstwhile ally Syria against Israel. This renders Bibi Netanyahu’s private agreements with Putin null and void.
The Middle East is fast being broken down into proxies that are either connected to Russia or the USA. This air battle between Israel and Iran/Syria may blow up into a major conflict or at the very least spell the beginning of a far more chaotic situation.