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Over the weekend Israel carried out two air strikes against Syrian positions within 48 hours. The first attack targeted a shipment of missiles thought to have been on their way to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, and the second was an airstrike against a military research centre on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.
Syria has now threatened retaliation, in what could lead to a widespread regional conflict. The Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad told CNN that the airstrikes were considered an act of war and that the Syrian government would retaliate in their own time.
Israel has threatened to carry out strategic strikes against Syrian positions, as the two year old civil war has increased the chance that Hezbollah, or other dangerous militant groups, obtain new weapons and then use them against Israel.
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Israel believes that since 2006 Hezbollah has increased its weapons stocks and obtained far more sophisticated missiles which offer a greater range. Israel is deeply worried that Hezbollah will launch attacks, and has deployed two Iron Dome missile defence systems in the north.
Iran is a strong supporter of Assad’s regime in Syria, and is deeply involved in the efforts to repel the rebel forces. Israel has long voiced its desires to attack Iran in order to force them to end their nuclear program before they achieve the capability to create nuclear weapons. This attack against Syria could be viewed as an indirect attack on Iran.
Jonathan Spyer, a political scientist at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, Israel, suggested that the Israelis only attacked because Assad and his allies are too busy with the Syrian civil war to carry out any reprisal.
“Israel is taking a calculated risk that Assad, Iran and Hezbollah are right now fighting a war against the Syrian rebels and probably don’t want to open up a second front against a far more formidable enemy,” he said.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com