The airstrike by Israel inside Syria on Wednesday is raising concerns of greater confrontation and repercussions against the Jewish state. Israel’s unprovoked aggression inside Syria has triggered strong condemnation from Syria’s allies, especially Russia and Iran.
Apparently, Israel’s airstrike hit a convoy believed to be carrying anti-aircraft weapons for Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran. The attack came after the Jewish state expressed concerns that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s stockpile of chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Hezbollah or other militant groups opposed to Israel.
But the Syrian army accused Israel of violating their airspace and carrying out direct attack on a scientific research center inside Syria.
Hezbollah criticized the attack as a "barbaric aggression," and Russia said it considered the act an "unprovoked attack" on a sovereign nation. According to a report in the Telegraph, a statement by Russia’s foreign ministry on Thursday declared, "If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked strikes against targets located on the territory of a sovereign state, which brazenly infringes on the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motive used for its justification."
Syria’s strongest ally, Iran, also condemned the airstrike. According to reports, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called Israel’s action a clear violation of Syria's sovereignty. He added that the raid on Syria will have significant implications for the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
Iran has remained Syria's strongest ally in the Middle East and continues to provide military and political support to the Assad regime.
Meanwhile, Syria has pointed out that Damascus has the option to retaliate, but it is not clear if Syrian authorities are preparing for an attack on Israel. While the Syrian army has strongly criticized the unprovoked attack by Israel, Assad is yet to issue a formal statement about his views on Israel’s aggression.
It is unlikely Syria would be ready for an all-out war against Israel. A prolonged conflict with Israel would be the last thing Assad could handle at this moment. Moreover, Hezbollah is not in a position to stand up strongly against Israel, as its main ally, Syria, is in a state of collapse.
Israel’s attack inside Syria was a strategic decision, one possibly made after consulting the United States. Iran's and Russia's response may create ripples on the diplomatic front, but I don’t see real aggression from the two of Syria’s strongest allies.
With the rebels closing in on Damascus, it is predictable that Iran and Syria would be more interested in fortifying Assad’s remaining frontiers until the time they are convinced that Assad needs to take an exit route from Damascus.
Meanwhile, the Jewish state maintains its typical silence in the face of condemnation that it violated Syria's sovereignty. With criticisms and condemnation pouring in from the Arab League and other nations, the next few weeks will indicate whether the reactions remain etched on the diplomatic sphere or get translated into strong military response from Syria’s allies—Russia, Iran and Hezbollah—which seems unlikely.