Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces in Lebanon and Syria are a constant military threat to Israel. A de-escalation deal agreed upon by Jordan, Russia and Washington allows Iran or its proxies to come to within 3.1 miles of Syria and the rebels. That is about 12.5 miles of the Israeli border.

Israel feels threatened. It fears hundreds of precision missiles have been delivered to Hezbollah and Iran has established bases in southern Syria.

For instance, Syrian forces retook a position in the northern Golan last month, the site is located about 10 miles from the Israeli border. Israel Defense Forces officers believe that sooner or later, Syrian President Assad will use this as a launching pad to control of the rest of the Syrian Golan. According to Harretz’s Amos Harel, an Israeli scholar, he issued a stark warning at the Middle East conference in Moscow on Feb. 20 that his country may not wait to be hit before it strikes.

“The conventional threat that Iran is building in Syria is bound to develop into a conflict between Jerusalem and Tehran,” said Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, executive director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies at the Valdai Club conference.

“Because this danger could take an existential turn down the line, as it could serve as a protective deterrent in support of Iran's nuclear program, Israel may revert to the Begin Doctrine which calls for pre-emptive action to prevent states calling for Israel's destruction from gaining the ability to pose a critical threat.”


America could work with the Israelis and Russians to end the advanced weapons transfers to Hezbollah and secure the withdrawal of Iranian and Hezbollah forces from Syria, according to Richard Baffa of the Rand Corp.

Tehran wants to be in Syria and have easy access to Lebanon. Russia now has a military air base, naval port and Muslim allies. Why would Moscow risk this to help Israel?

One reason is the coffins coming to Russia. Moscow says only five Russian contractors were killed attacking Deir al-Zor on Feb. 7. Syria put the death toll at 200.

Russian social media is awash with messages of their sons and friends who made up the bulk of the casualty list after two units supplied by the private mercenary company Wagner were “all but wiped out.”

Face reality

The Kremlin maintained plausible deniability using Russian mercenaries in Georgia and Ukraine. Now, Russia is doing the same in Syria. When the Russians attacked the best military in the world, things did not go the Kremlin’s way.

Apparently Russia doesn’t like its irregulars getting slaughtered. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned America not to play with fire. “The U.S. should stop playing very dangerous games which could lead to the dismemberment of the Syrian state,” Lavrov said at the Moscow conference with Iranian and Syrian representatives addressing the crisis in the Middle East on Feb. 20.