An Israeli war against Iran would mean horror for ordinary people across the Middle East-and could easily spread well outside of Syria's borders. So far Iran has stood resolute in Syria and Iraq in spite of the US and Israel's opposition to Tehran's recent aggressive military policy in the Middle East.
Israel's air attack on a manned Iranian command and control unit in Syria last weekend-and the Syrian shoot-down of an Israeli plane involved in the operation-marked a major escalation in the conflict between Israel and Iran in Syria. Throughout the Syrian civil war, Israel has carried out air strikes on multiple positions in Syria in order to prevent the transfer of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. On Saturday, Kurdish forces shot down a Turkish attack helicopter, the first officially confirmed loss of a Turkish aircraft over Syria.
"I would like to paraphrase the well-known saying: 'This is not the time to bark, this is the time to bite'".
It often seems that Iran and the Syrian regime are speaking the same narrative.
Syria, meanwhile, feels it now has the upper hand in the civil war and is more emboldened to stop Israeli air raids inside the country, analysts say.
"A broader war could be one miscalculation away", it wrote in a report released Thursday.
"The specter of the world's worst civil war in decades is becoming demonstrably worse by the week and even more complicated by the actions of outside forces creating a ideal storm of chaos and suffering in Syria", the Soufan Center said in an analysis of the situation. "Not because of the incident itself necessarily but because we are seeing that the parties are now taking more assertive stances". Demonstrators in Damascus handed out candies because they were so thrilled at this sign of Syria's ability to punish the Israeli killing machine. Syria represents Iran's first significant military success overseas in recent years.
The frightening flare-up involving Syria and Iran this past weekend was not just some far away event that concerns only those of us anxious about Israel's security on its volatile northern border.
In Israel's telling, the sequence of events began early Saturday, when Israeli forces spotted an Iranian drone entering Israeli airspace. "The alleged incursion was used as the pretext for Israeli strikes on what it described as Iranian targets in Syria [emphasis added]". "A good way to achieve both objectives would be back Israel's response to Iran's aggression - now and in the future". SANA said that "an aggression" by the coalition against "popular forces" that were fighting the Islamic State group and the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces. The debris of the aircraft fell in northern Israel, with the two pilots surviving by ejecting before the crash. Israel has been sending messages through all possible channels to Iran, Syria, and Russian Federation that it will not tolerate any kind of Iranian presence and activity along its Syrian border, be it Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) activity or through proxy militias such as Hezbollah. At least two Russian fighters were killed, Reuters reported.
Israel's minister of military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, said on Tuesday that Tel Aviv "does accept any limitations" on Syria military offensives.
"It's unclear to me if Iran is really calling the shots here", said Blumenthal.