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Israeli bombs kill civilians in airstrike on Syria

Without headlines or denunciation, Israeli bombs in Syria as part of a low level war directed against its regional rival Iran, reports Nick Clark
Issue 2795
Israeli military outpost

Israeli military post overviews Syria in the Golan Heights. (Maxim B.)

Israeli airstrikes in Syria killed two civilians on Monday morning, the Syrian regime has claimed. The attack near the Syrian capital Damascus is the latest of hundreds of airstrikes Israel has launched in Syria since 2011.

Israeli jets launched missiles at a weapon and ammunition depot south of Damascus after invading the airspace of neighbouring Lebanon. It is at least the seventh Israeli attack on Syria this year. It comes after Israel bombed Syria at least four times last month, according to the British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

One Israeli airstrike on 24 February killed a further six people—said to be pro-government fighters and soldiers. It followed an Israeli raid on a Syrian town that same month near the Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied since 1967. Israel never admits to individual airstrikes—but boasts it has struck Syria hundreds of times since the civil war began there in 2011. It struck Syria roughly 30 times last year, killing 130 people including five civilians, according to the Observatory.

It is part of a long-running, low level war against its regional rival Iran, which threatens the West’s dominance in the Middle East. Iran intervened in the Syrian civil war on behalf of dictator Bashar al-Assad, helping it to extend its power and influence across the Middle East. Iranian soldiers and Iranian-backed fighters now have a ­foothold across the south of Syria. These have helped to make Iran a challenge to the US, which has fought its wars to try and keep its dominance in the Middle East.

Israel says the Iranian forces in Syria, close to the border, pose a threat to its security. But it is also fighting to stop Iran from becoming an even bigger challenge to the US and the West in the Middle East.

Israel’s role in the Middle East has always been to fight on behalf of the West when the US would rather not get directly involved. The latest airstrike comes as Israel is trying to position itself as a neutral mediator between Russia and Ukraine. Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett flew to Russia’s capital Moscow for talks on Sunday.

Unlike the rest of Western governments, Bennett has held back from directly condemning Russia. But that’s not because Israel has broken from the West or is a force for peace. It’s because it wants Russia to continue allowing Israeli airstrikes in Syria. And it may also be useful for the US to have a route to Putin. Bennett is coordinating his efforts in the crisis with the United States, France and Germany, an Israeli official said. So now Israel’s government pretends to act as a peace broker in Ukraine so it can continue its steady stream of death in Syria.

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