Monday in Syria, Israeli forces were in the process of demolishing a munitions building that they believe was being used by Hezbollah to prepare weaponry for its forces in Lebanon. Syrian forces retaliated, accidentally downing a Russian spy plane, killing all 15 passengers. Israel is cooperating with Russia regarding events leading up to the downing of its plane.
Recently Israel has escalated crackdowns on Iranian-run Hezbollah in Syria. Throughout the Syrian civil war, Iran has outfitted its Hezbollah forces with deadlier, more far reaching weaponry. Until Assad forces regained control in Syrian Golan, Iranian forces amassed themselves in Southern Syria, near the Israeli border. Throughout the Syrian civil war, Israel has consistently maintained that it will not tolerate prolonged Iranian military presence in the region.
Israel has tried to remain neutral throughout the Syrian civil war. It has a record of steady communication with Syria and wishes to maintain this relationship. However, Israel and other regional powers are concerned that as its influence grows in the region, Iran will stop at nothing to attain greater military prominence, including steepening its forces in Syria.
Israel has conducted 200 strikes against Iranian forces as they have attempted to increase presence via IRGC and Hezbollah in Syria. Israel believes that Iran is attempting to build a Hezbollah stronghold from Lebanon to the Golan Heights, threatening Israel’s hold on the occupied territory and endangering the Israeli mainland.
Iranian-backed Hezbollah has been a fixture in Lebanon since 1982. Since the start of the Syrian civil war, Iranian Hezbollah have increased in Damascus. In the past, Israel has discussed returning the Golan Heights to Syria. However, it believes that giving back the Golan will not be possible without Iranian backed guerillas leaving the region.
Throughout the Syrian civil war, Israel has tried to maintain a demilitarization in the occupied Golan Heights to assure that no militarized forces in Syria pose a threat to the Israeli mainland. However, in August, Israeli forces killed members of ISIS attempting to enter Israeli territory in Golan. Israel has assured all forces in the region that it will do the same to Hezbollah if its buildup in the region continues. Responding to yesterday’s incident, Russia has stated that it will enhance security in Syria.
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