'Unclear' Whether Turkey-Russia Deal Will Prevent Fight for Syria’s Idlib

Frederick Owens
September 23, 2018

Russia, along with Iran, has given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad support throughout the country's seven-year civil war, which began with a government crackdown on protesters in March 2011.

It is this author's hope that the Israeli leaders will stand firm to the Russian challenge, as long as Russia does not act more firmly against the Iranian attempts to implant itself and its proxies on Syrian soil and build a platform for future, if not immediate, attacks against the Jewish State.

The IDF explained that its F-16s were targeting a Syrian Armed Forces facility "from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon". It said the Syrian army fired the missiles that hit the Russian plane when the Israeli jets had already returned to Israeli airspace. Monday's attack was against a city very close to the base.

At the same time, he emphasized Israel would not tolerate the Iranian military presence in Syria. "Gen. Igor Konashenkov. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu called his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, to declare that 'the Israeli side bears full responsibility" for the plane's downing. Some 1,665 Hezbollah fighters have been killed there, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Although Russia works with both of them in the fight against rebels in the country, and despite possessing advanced radar and missile systems to detect and stop most attacks, it has nevertheless tolerated coalition and Israeli strikes on Syrian and Iranian assets - often without informing its putative allies.

But the Russian Defense Ministry said the Israeli warning came less than a minute before the strike, leaving the Russian aircraft in the line of fire.

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Israel regards Hezbollah as the biggest threat on its borders and has said that it has carried out repeated strikes in Syria to prevent it getting arms deliveries from Iran.

Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu would speak directly to President Putin by phone to express condolences and explain that it was the "indiscriminate" fire by Syrian forces that was responsible.

Hezbollah fighters will continue to be deployed in Syria, he said, but perhaps in lesser numbers due to reduced fighting there after Syrian government forces regained control of most rebel-held areas.

On Monday, Russian and Turkey agreed to rule out a military solution in the Idlib region, the opposition's last big foothold in Syria along with adjoining territory north of Aleppo, in favour of enforcing a new demilitarised zone from which "radical" rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of next month.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the U.S. "expresses its sorrow" for the death of the Russian plane crew downed in Syria.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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