The proxy regime change war against Syria was launched 7 years ago with the clear intention of overthrowing the Assad government and turning Syria into a Western client state to act as a buffer against expanding Iranian influence and thereby secure US control of the region a little longer.
Israel stands alone as the country that has been shouting loudest and longest about the evils of Iran, so it makes sense that Israel would play a key role in the creation and perpetuation of the Syrian conflict aimed at overthrowing Assad. It’s well known that throughout the course of the conflict Israel has supplied Syrian proxy forces with vital equipment and money to buy weapons. Over the last last 6 months Israel has carried out several direct rocket and missile attacks on Syrian army positions around Damascus and on alleged ‘Iranian weapons shipments’ to Hizb’allah.
Earlier today, Israeli jets once again breached Syrian territory and attacked Syrian military positions in the “central region of Syria” according to Syrian news outlet Sana. This time however Syrian air defenses responded and shot down at least one Israeli F-16 jet. According to Israeli sources, the jet crashed in Israeli territory near the town of Harduf. Both pilots ejected and landed in Israel, although one is said to be “badly injured”.
This is the first time an Israeli F-16 was brought down since Israel began using the jets in the 1980s. The Israeli narrative around the events is typically hypocritical. According to Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus, an “Iranian drone” was intercepted and brought down over Israeli territory.
According to several sources, the Israeli military stated that it had the offending drone in its possession. But then Conricus posted a video to twitter supposedly showing the ‘Iranian drone’ being destroyed.
If that video is truly of the ‘Iranian drone’, I suppose the Israelis could technically have ‘it’ in their possession, in the form of 10,000 tiny fragments. But you’ll forgive me if I call BS on this one.
Anyway, the ‘drone incursion’ provoked the initial Israeli attack on what Conricus claims was “an Iranian drone control facility near the desert city of Palmyra“. As the Israeli jets were returning to Israel, they came under sustained Syrian anti-aircraft fire leading to the crash of the F-16 near Harduf.
In response to the shoot down of their jet, Israeli aircraft then launched what is described as a “large-scale air raid in Syria”. “Twelve sites, including four “Iranian targets” near the Syrian capital, Damascus, were destroyed, according to Conricus, who also stated that Iran was “responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty”.
The Syria government has contested this narrative saying that the claim that a drone entered Israeli territory is a lie, and that drones had left the Syrian T4 air base in the morning to conduct routine operations against Islamic State in the Syrian desert. So who are we to believe?
For a start, the idea that Israel can legitimately complain about a “violation of Israeli sovereignty” – even if a Syrian drone did enter its territory – is laughable given that Israel has not only repeatedly violated Syrian (and Iranian) sovereignty, but bombed Syrian military positions and murdered Iranian scientists in Iran.
Secondly, the claim of a drone entering Israeli territory is a little too convenient as a justification for the initial Israeli attack on Syrian positions. It is more likely that the Syrian account is closer to reality. Perhaps Syrian drones were indeed operating over ISIS positions in the Syrian desert and the Israelis new about it, because there were Israelis embedded with ISIS in those positions? And maybe the reference to ‘Israeli sovereignty’ is a euphemism for the territory that Israeli forces have staked out inside Syria, right where ISIS happens to be? This would then have provoked an Israeli military attack in an effort to stop the Syrians spying on ‘Israeli territory’ inside Syria.
The war in Syria is fully a proxy war between Western powers – USA and allies in Europe and the Gulf, including Israel – and Russia and its allies in the Middle East – Iran, Syria, Lebanon and to some extent Iraq and Turkey. Proxy wars are very ‘useful’ because they allow for the major powers to engage in what is effectively a ‘hot’ conventional war over territory while pretending that everything is ‘normal’, at least on the military front.
The danger does exist, however, that this kind of conflict can escalate beyond the proxy forces engaging with each other to proxy forces directly attacking the military resources of the major powers. This is in fact what happened this morning with the shoot down of the Israeli jet, but that wasn’t the first salvo. The first was when someone shot down a Russia jet on the Syrian-Turkish border in late Nov. 2015. The second was last week’s shoot down of another Russian jet over Idlib by US-backed al-Qaeda in Syria terrorists. In both cases, a Russian pilot was killed by the jihadists.
It’s difficult then not to see today’s shoot down of an Israeli jet of US origin by Russian backed Syrian forces as a response to last week’s shoot down of a Russian jet by US backed terrorists. That said, from a certain perspective this can be seen as a positive development in the Syrian conflict for two reasons:
It sends a clear message to the US and Israel that they can no longer violate Syrian territorial integrity and brutalize the Syrian people with impunity.
That the the US and Israel are forced to resort to increasingly flagrant attacks on the Syrian, Iranian and Russian military is a sign that their collective plot to overrun Syria is failing.
In responding to today’s events, the Russian Foreign Ministry was typically diplomatic, although the subtext is clear:
“We urge all the involved parties to exercise restraint and avoid any steps that could lead to aggravation of the situation. We consider it necessary to unconditionally respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and other countries of the region.” The ministry also noted that the creation of threats in Syria, where the Russian military contingent is present, is unacceptable.
Enough said. For now.