Direct Strikes Raise Risk of an Israeli-Iranian War

Vladimir Putin may play a central role in what happens next
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2018 12:30 PM CDT
Israeli soldiers walk past tanks in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, near the border with Syria, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Israel says it struck dozens of Iranian targets in Syria overnight in response...   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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(Newser) – First, Iranian forces in Syria fired 20 rockets at Israel. Then Israel retaliated with a much larger show of force, with fighter jets striking dozens of Iranian targets in Syria. Iran and Israel have been fighting what the New York Times calls a "shadow war" in Syria, but the direct strikes on each other suggest that the conflict is in the shadows no more. Whether it grows into a larger conflict is now the big concern, and France, Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom each separately called for restraint from both sides, reports i24 News. Details, developments, and background:

  • The danger: "These are the first skirmishes in a potential war between Israel and Iran that promises a fearful level of destruction—even by the standards of the modern Middle East," writes Jonathan Marcus at the BBC. Unless it's averted, the conflict would pit Israeli airpower against the missiles of Iran and its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon.
  • The roots: Israel accuses Iran of taking advantage of the chaos in Syria to try to create what Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman calls a "forward base against Israel" along Israel's northern border, per the AP. In a speech to soldiers ahead of the latest strikes, he said, “We are facing a new reality—the Lebanese army, in cooperation with Hezbollah, the Syrian army, the [Shia] militias in Syria and above them Iran—are all becoming a single front against the state of Israel.”

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