Why Syria hasn’t retaliated to the alleged Israeli strike
Syria and allies practice restraint after alleged Israeli attack on missile plant
Amos Harel Sep 10, 2017
read more: ▻http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/syria/.premium-1.811402
It appears, however, that the timing isn’t convenient for sabre rattling by the Assad regime and its supporters. The regime scored an important victory last week when the Syrian army and Shi’ite militias took over Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria and drove out Islamic State fighters. Iran is explaining its active military involvement in Syria with the need to help the Assad regime, more than opening a front with Israel, while Hezbollah is playing down the assistance it receives from Iran and Syria.
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A military retaliation against Israel could create difficulties for the parties bolstering Hezbollah. The response could come at a later stage and indirectly, like the tightening of Russian-Iranian cooperation.
Recently, reports have said Russia will provide air defense in western Syria, mainly via S-400 missiles, for Iranian arms plants as well. As far as is known, Iran operates such facilities in Syria in coordination with the Assad regime, but so far hasn’t implemented plans to set up similar ones in Lebanon.
Syrian soccer fans hold a portrait of President Bashar Assad before a match with Iran in a World Cup qualifier, Tehran, September 6, 2017.Vahid Salemi / AP
On Sunday, Israel’s military will continue the large drill in the north that began last week; numerous infantry units and aircraft will be involved. The exercise, which is taking place in a Lower Galilee area that simulates Lebanon, will move this week from defense to offense. Presumably, Hezbollah and Syria will also have to take the Israeli army’s high alert into account if they’re considering a retaliation to the airstrike.
Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said he didn’t know who attacked the plant in Syria, “but whoever it was did Israel an excellent service.”
As Ya’alon put it, “The Russians, even if they think we did it, aren’t saying a word. There’s a hotline between our defense establishments and understandings that we won’t get in their way and they won’t get in ours. I don’t see a fear of an escalation, but we have to keep evaluating the situation.”