Israel Grapples with Iran’s Growing Presence in Syria
The Fellowship | July 12, 2017
While the U.S. has recently supported a ceasefire in southern Syria, Iran’s presence in the war-torn country is alarming to those who stand for Israel. Writing at JNS, Yaakov Lappin notes that Israel has warned the Islamic Republic not to use its Syrian presence to create bases from which it could attack the Jewish state and her people:
Assad’s recent victories are setting the stage for the continued spread of his steadfast backer, Iran, and its network of heavily armed Shi’a proxies.
Israel has been issuing stern warnings to Iran, telling it not to repeat past efforts to use its presence in Syria to set up bases of attack against Israeli targets. The Jewish state has been frequently dealing with errant fire from Syria landing in Israeli territory in the Golan Heights—nearly 20 such instances in recent weeks. Israel usually responds by firing on Syrian regime targets and vowing to respond to every breach of its territory. Israel’s wider concern, however, is that wherever Assad’s forces end up rolling into, Iran’s influence tends to appear.
Most recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautiously welcomed a southern Syria cease-fire, brokered by the U.S. and Russia, that came into effect Sunday. The cease-fire followed Israel’s reported push for Russia and the U.S. to establish a buffer zone in southern Syria where the Hezbollah terror group and other Iranian proxies would not be allowed to operate.
Tens of thousands of Iranian-backed Shi’a militia members are currently operating across Syria. Under Iranian command, they combat Sunni rebel organizations seeking to depose the Assad regime. Tehran is also working to link up its forces in Iraq together with those in Syria, with the goal of creating a continuous land corridor that stretches from Iran to Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to use Syria as a transit zone for the trafficking of weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran has overseen the construction of weapons factories in Syria—and now in Lebanon, too—that can produce accurate missiles for Hezbollah…