iran and israeli flags with image of fighter jets. abstract

Israel and Iran have stepped on the slippery slope to all-out war

Israel and Iran are now in open and direct conflict in Syria. The two countries have been engaged in a shadow war for years, with ­Israel secretly targeting assets of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah.

What has changed over the weekend is the overt nature of their confrontation.

Israel and Iran carried out daylight air and missile strikes on each other on Sunday, and Israel for the first time acknowledged that it was attacking bases of Iran’s expeditionary al-Quds Brigade, in real time, in the early hours of yesterday.

Both sides seem motivated, at least partly, by the vacuum that now exists in Syria. The Assad regime is more secure in Damascus but hardly in control of most of the war-torn country.

Islamic State, which three years ago held much of northern Syria, has lost nearly all its strongholds. Iran seized the opportunity to establish permanent bases on Syrian soil, completing its “Shia Crescent” land corridor leading all the way from Tehran, through Iraq and Syria, to Beirut and the Mediterranean coast.

Israel attacked Iranian targets in Syria, without taking responsibility, while hoping that Russia and the US would also rein in Iran.

Russia, however, does not seem inclined to oblige and President Donald Trump has announced a rapid and full withdrawal of US forces from Syria. Israel is left facing Iran on its own.

Read the article by Anshel Pfeffer in The Australian (from The Times).