Russia Shrinks Forces in Syria, a Factor in Israeli Strategy There are several factors that have been making Syria increasingly difficult for the Israelis to deal with, but the most important is the shrinking of the Syrian army, which has allowed Iran, Hezbollah and some elements of the Israeli military to gain a foothold in the country.
By Hillel Aron
The Israeli invasion (and occupation) of Syria in 2011 was preceded by months of military maneuvers designed to prepare for a possible military assault on Iran and Hezbollah. At this point, while the Israeli invasion was still in planning, its goal was to use the invasion as a pretext to attack Iran itself. This operation was conducted as a direct “spur” into a non-state actor. The invasion of Syria was a “hit the Iran” operation, which would have used the incident to build up the Israeli public fear of Iran’s actions in the region.
The invasion of Syria was also preceded by a series of joint military exercises with Russia where they tested the feasibility of attacking Iran. These maneuvers gave Israel a “green light” to invade Syria and to conduct attacks on Iran itself. According to the former head of the Mossad’s (Israel’s military’s equivalent of the CIA) Strategic Affairs Directorate, Yuval Diskin, the joint exercises included a realistic plan for attacks on Iran, with a timeline laid out to prepare for the invasion.
The Israeli military’s preparations for the invasion of Syria were also aided by the “deterrence” of Iraq, where Israel faced a similar threat of being attacked. This was because Iraq had a strong anti-Israeli sentiment, had signed a peace treaty with Israel and had been on the receiving end of a series of terrorist attacks that were carried out from the territory of Iraq. Iraq’s anti-Israeli sentiments were a major factor in its decision to join the International coalition against the Islamic State of