An Israeli-Iranian shadow war has been raging across the border in Syria in recent years, with Iran trying to turn the war-ravaged country into a new front against Israel, and Israel, using intelligence and airpower, working hard to prevent the formation of an Iranian war machine to its north.
This shadow war is now threatening to drag embattled Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's regime into the conflict. Damascus has fired on Israeli jets repeatedly, losing many of its air defense batteries to Israeli counter-strikes in the process. And now, Syria is escalating its threats against Israel, saying that it could fire missiles at "every part" of Israel if strikes on Iranian targets continue.
Assad's threats are the result of his growing confidence as the civil war in his country winds down and his territorial base expands. His Russian and Iranian allies remain committed to the welfare of his regime. But if Assad makes good on such threats against Israel, he would end up jeopardizing the future of his regime by exposing it to massive Israeli firepower.
The prospect of this has alarmed Assad's great power sponsor, Russia. As a result, Russia, is determined to douse the flames of the Iranian – Israeli conflict in Syria. Moscow has, on the one hand, indicated that it takes Israel's security concerns seriously, even going as far to point out that Iran is "not an ally."
President Vladimir Putin is aware of the fact that Iranian designs for Syria, in the long run, represent a threat to Russia's own plans to stabilize the country, and to Russia's plan to project its power and influence to the Middle East via Syria. But Russia still needs its Iranian-axis partner on the ground to keep stabilizing Assad.
At the same time, Russia is trying to deter Israel from continuing its strikes. And to that end, it has deployed advanced S-300 surface-to-air (SAM) missile batteries to Syria to defend itself against Israeli strikes. (end of excerpt)
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