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10 Feb, 2018 19:40

Israel calls its strikes on Syria ‘biggest’ in over 30yrs

A top commander in the Israeli Air Force has called its recent airstrikes on Syria the biggest operation of its kind since the Lebanese Civil War. But some observers suggest Israel may be trying to avoid a wider confrontation.

Brigadier General Tomer Bar, the Israeli Air Force’s second-in-command, told journalists that its airstrikes on Syria on Saturday morning were “the biggest and most significant attack the air force has conducted against Syrian air defenses since Operation Peace for the Galilee” during the Lebanese Civil War in 1982.

The strikes were launched in response to the downing of an F-16 fighter jet earlier this morning, which was claimed by Syria. The F-16 was sent on a combat run over Syria after the Israeli military said an Iranian drone was spotted in northern Israel.

Bar said the retaliatory airstrikes inflicted “significant harm to the Syrian Air Force’s defenses,” which included “anti-aircraft batteries purchased in recent deals [with Russia],” along with Iranian targets.

However, despite this tough talk, Max Blumenthal, author and senior editor at The Real News, who is currently in the region, says Israel does not really want to escalate the situation with its northern neighbor.

What’s more, “after losing something like one hundred soldiers either from its own regulars or an allied militia to American airstrikes, [the Syrian government] has decided it had enough with these infringements on its sovereignty and that it will strike back.”

Meanwhile, the Russian foreign ministry has expressed concern that Israeli military operations may destabilize the fragile peace process and de-escalation zones in Syria. All regional players must “exercise restraint and avoid any action that could further complicate the situation,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, stressing the need to respect the sovereignty of “Syria and other nations in the region.”

READ MORE: Israeli F-16 fighter jet crashes under Syrian anti-aircraft fire amid IDF cross-border raid

“Our special concern is the threat of escalation of tension inside and around the zones of de-escalation in Syria, the creation of which became an important factor for the reduction of violence on Syrian soil,” the ministry said, referring to the four zones set up across the country by Russia, Turkey, and Iran to help dampen the conflict in those areas and eventually lead to a negotiated settlement.

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