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Israeli attacks only poured more oil on the flames of Syrian crisis

Israeli attacks only poured more oil on the flames of Syrian crisis

Such was the case with the Sydney Morning Herald's republication of the Washington Post's coverage of an Iranian drone incursion into Israeli airspace and the subsequent Israeli military response.

Israel seized upon this to send F-16s to strike the airfield whence the drone originated. "All worldwide & regional actors interested in stabilizing the region should work together to counter Iran, prevent it from basing itself in Syria and stop its support of Hezbollah". Tehran provides military support to Assad, but is also fortifying its own military presence in Syria, not far from Israel's northern border, and helping its Shiite ally, Hezbollah, build up forces outside the Israel-occupied Golan Heights.

In 2003 I wrote a column in the run-up to the USA toppling of Saddam Hussein, which I supported, in which I warned: "The first rule of any Iraq invasion is the pottery store rule: You break it, you own it".

As the Trump administration is still trying to figure out what to do in the region, "Russia is dictating the way things are going". But earlier this year, USA officials confirmed Washington's intention to keep troops indefinitely in northern Syria even after the defeat of IS. "In general the parties are not looking for a war". The Israelis, on the other side, had amidst all the chaos relied on non-intervention, but now they see themselves confronted with a new situation in which they are strategically inferior.

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Also on February 10, according to the Israeli paper Haaretz, Kurdish fighters backed and armed by the US shot down a Turkish attack helicopter.

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If Tehran did, it would be an act of monumental stupidity. This prompted Israel to hit eight Syrian targets and four Iranian positions, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

It was the first time Israel publicly acknowledged hitting Iranian targets in Syria since the 2011 start of the civil war there. Turkey's president is threatening to expand the offensive east, toward the town of Manbij, where USA troops maintain bases, while US officials accuse Turkey of hampering the fight against IS with its Afrin operation.

But as IS shrinks, the estimated 2,000 USA troops stationed in Syria find themselves caught in a highly unpredictable and shifting battlefield, as demonstrated by an unexpected attack by pro-Assad fighters on US -backed forces who were accompanied by US advisers in Deir el-Zour. The U.S. response was a barrage of air and artillery strikes that killed 100 soldiers. Having accumulated vital battle experience in Syria, Hezbollah requires additional weapons to match its growing capabilities. Netanyahu has also made numerous trips to Moscow, most recently in January, issuing personal appeals to President Putin about Israeli red lines.

The U.S. and Turkey, allies for six decades, with the largest armies in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, may soon be staring down each other's gun barrels.

In January, a USA -led coalition unveiled a plan to set up a new border force of 30,000 Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria, raising alarms in the region that the White House may be helping to cement an autonomous Kurdish enclave that could further divide the country. As well, if Turkey engages in battles against the Syrian regime's allies or insists to pursue Kurds who are allied with the USA, he thinks it will be in danger. Israel's latest military action has the potential to accelerate the events.

And now that the rebels have been defeated and the civil war is nearly over, what would be the cost and what would be the prospects of fighting a new and wider war?