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In Syria, a dangerous subplot: Iran vs. Israel

In Syria, a dangerous subplot: Iran vs. Israel

February 14th, 2018 by Chicago Tribune in Opinion Columns

One of the most confounding—and dangerous—aspects of the six-year-conflict in Syria is that its roster of combatants continues to broaden. Russia and Iran are helping Syrian President Bashar Assad run down U.S.-backed rebels. Islamic State has been routed from most of its territory but still holds pockets of the Euphrates River valley. NATO member Turkey recently began attacking U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters in the country's north, the same Kurdish fighters that helped defeat Islamic State.

Now another subplot is emerging, involving one of America's strongest allies: Israel.

On Saturday, an Iranian drone violated Israeli airspace. Israel answered quickly, shooting down the drone and then sending F-16 fighter jets into Syria to take out the command center that launched the drone. One of those F-16s on its way back to Israel was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Israel then retaliated with airstrikes on eight Syrian and four Iranian military targets within Syria.

"We will continue to strike at every attempt to strike at us," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared.

The potential looms for bigger, more ominous clashes between Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah forces on one side and Israel on the other. If Israeli lives are lost, the Netanyahu administration's response may be much more severe. Former President Barack Obama's disastrous handling of Syria is a prime cause for the chaos roiling the country now, and a big reason why Russia assumed dominance in the war-torn nation. Granted, the Trump administration inherited the chaos in Syria, but it can't afford to let Iran carry out its own nefarious agenda, point blank on Israel's doorstep.


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