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Iran's Involvement and Fuelling of the Syrian Conflict

Iran's Involvement and Fuelling of the Syrian Conflict

Liberman's comments came days after the most serious confrontation between arch foes Israel and Iran since Syria's civil war began in 2011, sparked by the incursion of an Iranian drone into Israeli airspace from the war-torn country. Regional order - knocked off balance by the 2003 invasion of Iraq - is being reshaped here (as well as in Yemen) in a series of proxy engagements and mini-conflicts that, aside from Syrians fighting Syrians, take in nearly all the region's players: Turks fight Kurds, Israel bombs Hizballah targets and Arab Gulf proxies take on Iranian-backed forces. The Israeli Air Force then conducted a second round of airstrikes, destroying between a third and half of Syria's air defenses, according to IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. One Israeli report quoted the pilots of the downed F-16 - who parachuted out of the warplane - as saying that they realized they had been "hit" only after hearing an explosion.

Last weekend's conflagration led to the first shoot-down of an Israeli aircraft in over 35 years.

Tehran denied any involvement in the drone penetration claim made by Israel. The Pentagon has said IS fighters have been cleared from more than 98 per cent of the territory they held at their peak in 2014 and 2015.

With Russia's military deeply enmeshed in Syria, it is in neither Israel's nor Russia's interest to clash and both are very aware of the danger of miscalculation. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the drone "was detected long before crossing Israeli territory".

The White House had expressed support for Israel's retaliatory military strikes in Syria and called on Iran to "cease provocative actions" in the region.

"Is Iran's reliance on Syria already a fact on the ground", the defense minister was asked by one of the journalists, and replied, "We will talk less and do what is necessary, and you will continue to deal with the interpretation".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said Israel's strikes on Saturday had killed at least six people from Syrian government and allied forces.

At 8:45 a.m., the IDF launched a "large-scale attack" against "the Syrian aerial defense array and additional Iranian targets in Syria".

It was reported that Israel "intended to continue destroying the rest of the missile launchers, but Netanyahu ordered a halt to the operation following a telephone conversation with Putin", in which he was informed that Moscow opposes "the escalation and warns against harming its interests in Syria".

Now, it's Russian President Vladimir Putin's move. The US, Israel's closest ally, took its time to react and when it did, it said it had played no part in Saturday's events, while supporting Israel's right to defend itself.

"We are concerned at the Iranian actions, which detract from efforts to get a genuine peace process under way", Johnson said in a statement. It said others had posted photos of "trucks carrying the batteries on central highways in northern Israel". More importantly for Israel, Iran is also a key player in Lebanon. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (has) affirmed that the US seeks not only to ensure its allies" security but to deny Iran its "dreams of a northern arch' from Tehran to Beirut. Both Turkey and Iran are anxious due to their Kurdish minorities, which have argued for independence in decades past.

They've all learned - Russian Federation from Afghanistan, Iran from the Iran-Iraq war, Israel from south Lebanon, and the USA from Iraq and Afghanistan - that their publics will not tolerate large numbers of body bags fighting any ground war in the Middle East.

The U.S. has accused the Syrian government of using chlorine gas or other chemical weapons on civilians in rebel enclaves.