A New Phase?
The official IDF communiqué raises questions. It does not make sense for Israeli Arrow missiles to be aimed at Syrian ground-to-air rockets fired against the Israeli warplanes. The Arrow would only be used to intercept an incoming Syrian or Hizballah ground-to-ground missile heading for a target in Israel.
That too would explain the huge blast that resounded from the eastern Jordan Valley as far as Jerusalem, 150km away in the small hours of Friday.
This explanation gained credibility from the Syrian army account: “A total of four Israeli jets breached Syrian airspace on Friday morning. They hit a “military target” near Palmyra. In retaliation the jets were targeted by Syrian anti-aircraft missiles, which shot down on Israeli plane over “occupied ground.” Following the breach of the country’s airspace, the Syrian Army warned Israel of “direct” retaliation “with all means at its disposal,”
If indeed, Syria (or Hezbollah) finally retaliated for an Israeli raid that would be a serious escalation. Syria, Iran and Hezbollah may be feeling confident in the outcome of the civil war to fight back against Israel.
“The report, found on the web site Ya Sour, quoted Hezbollah sources saying the group intends to fire long-range projectiles at the Jewish state from the Qalamoun and Anti-Lebanon Mountain ranges, areas firmly under the Shiite group’s control on both the Syrian and Lebanese sides of the border.
There is reason to suspect that Hezbollah has indeed built up a missile arsenal in those areas, particularly as the city of Baalbek, the heartland of its Beqaa Valley stronghold, lies nearby. Israeli airstrikes against the group in Syria have been concentrated in Qalamoun. Moreover, a spokesman for the opposition’s Syrian National Salvation Front, named Fahd al-Masri, said in Dec. 2016 that Hezbollah was nearing completion of a tunnel in the Zabadani valley linking these two areas. Hezbollah seeks to facilitate the transfer of weapons and “reinforce its presence in the strategically important areas” in the western Damascus countryside, which includes Qalamoun, according to al-Masri.”
I think we are entering a new phase of the shadow conflict already brewing between Israel and her enemies. Things could be getting very interesting over the next few months.