by Rachel Ogbu
Many have referred to Israeli involvement in the Syrian civil war as unprecedented after she launched two airstrikes in Syria on Sunday.
This is because the last time Israel aircraft had struck Syria was once, in January.
According to reports, President Barack Obama said the U.S. coordinates closely with Israel, implying that Washington might have been the only entity not surprised by the Israeli strikes reportedly killed at least 100 dead soldiers and many dozens more wounded, the Times reported.
And this may not be the last of it. Although Israel has said repetitively it does not want to get pulled into Syria’s civil war, reports say, Israeli officials have indicated Israel will not stop hindering artilleries shipments to Hezbollah, increasing the likelihood of more Israeli airstrikes.
AP examines the reasons for and possible implications of the escalation of Israel’s involvement in Syria’s civil war.
- Yes, Israel has said repeatedly it does not want to get dragged into Syria’s civil war but has also warned that it will not allow so-called “game-changing” sophisticated weapons to flow across the border to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an Islamic militant group allied with the Syrian regime.
- Israeli defense officials believe Iran has stepped up shipments of weapons to Hezbollah through Syria, including accurate longer-range Iranian missiles, as President Bashar Assad’s position weakens. This could help explain the back-to-back Israeli strikes on Friday and Sunday on alleged Hezbollah-bound weapons in Syria.
- Analyst Paul Salem of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut says Israel may simply be sending a stern warning to deter such weapons smuggling. Salem says Israel also appears to be increasingly concerned about Iranian and Hezbollah forces fighting alongside Assad’s troops, close to Israel’s borders.
- The Israeli strikes illustrate that Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have drawn different red lines in Syria’s conflict.
- Israel’s main concern is that Hezbollah could obtain advanced weapons.
- Israel, which commands the region’s most powerful military, appears to be taking a calculated risk that Syria, Hezbollah or Iran won’t retaliate for its air raids. The initial Syrian response to Israel’s airstrike early Sunday appeared relatively muted. Syria’s government called the attacks a “flagrant violation of international law” and warned it has the right “to defend its people by all available means.”
- Future Israeli air attacks could also wipe out key Syrian military installations. Rebel forces have managed to seize a number of Syrian military bases, seizing heavier weapons but have advanced only slowly because of the regime’s air superiority.