In a few weeks, the Israeli army has attacked the airports of Damascus and Aleppo. According to Ynet News, the contacts are military, rather than political. This is intended to “reduce strength” to the presence of Tehran and prevent attacks on the Jewish state. For Assad, the goal is to protect areas under his direct control and repel pockets of resistance.
Damascus () – Syria and Israel have launched a “direct” dialogue channel to discuss the Iranian “presence” on Syrian territory. The talks would be at a “military” level and not a political one, explains an army veteran with the Star of David to Ynet News,. However, for the Jewish State – with the collaboration of Damascus – it would be an attempt to “reduce strength” from what it has repeatedly defined in the past as the “Iranian threat” in the Middle East region.
In the last decade, the Israeli army has carried out hundreds of operations in Syrian territory, causing victims and injuries -including ordinary citizens-, as well as material damage to military and civilian installations. Last week, part of the Aleppo airport was bombed; in June, several rockets hit the main airport in the capital, Damascus.
These were selective attacks, according to Israel, with the aim of annihilating the Iranian militiamen who were taking advantage of the airports in the two centers of Syria for international -and local- arms trafficking. The training centers, the operational bases or the deposits of war or strategic material distributed throughout different areas of the territory (close to 70%) controlled by Bashar al-Assad also ended up under the Israeli army’s sights.
It must be remembered that Iran has been a key ally of the Syrian government since the start of the conflict in March 2011. It has even supported the Syrian government army by sending weapons and troops. However, the turning point in the war came with the entry of Russia in support of Assad. This allowed Syria to recover large portions of the country that had ended up in the hands of opponents, rebel groups or jihadist militias. Behind the scenes, Israel has also played an active role, seeing the presence of the Pasdaran and the Islamic Republic military on its borders as a “threat” to its existence.
Israeli analysts and experts consider that the operations in Syrian territory, aimed at countering Tehran’s growing influence and arms trade, have been successful. The military would have “freedom of action”, while keeping a “diplomatic” channel open to avoid an escalation that would end up triggering an open conflict. For his part, President Assad cannot tolerate further attacks on strategic installations such as airports. Furthermore, on the war front, the Syrian army is still dealing with large pockets of internal resistance from rebel groups.
Therefore, the Syrian government decided to turn to Moscow, asking it to pressure Israel to stop the military operations. However, the Kremlin is focused on the Ukrainian front, which implies less involvement in Syria. That is why the Damascus government decided to start “direct” negotiations with Israel to safeguard the territory. At the same time, Assad also turned to his Iranian allies, asking them not to use Syria to launch attacks against the Jewish state. Some sources report that the leadership of the Islamic Republic considered that it is a “legitimate” demand and that its response was affirmative.