Observatory: 19 Iranians Killed in 2 Days of Israeli Strikes on Syria

Observatory: 19 Iranians Killed in 2 Days of Israeli Strikes on Syria

Israel intercepted some of the Iranian missiles with the aid of the Iron Dome air defense systems, while others fell short of striking the targets.

As it had said it would, Iran finally retaliated on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, Iran's Foreign Ministry condemned Israel's actions, calling them a "blatant violation of the country's sovereignty".

The answer, in a nutshell, is: Donald Trump.

"It makes Israel engage significant forces in direct counteraction to the Syrian air defense", says the military expert adding that in the confrontation with Israel the Syrian air defense has several weak points that prevent it from a more effective response to the attacks.

Overall, though, she said there's a lack of clarity about what's going on given that there have been periodic skirmishes in the Golan region in the past.

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It will be a war mainly with missiles from Iran and Hezbollah versus Israel's air force.

The Iranian government is scrambling to stem the losses from Trump's decision to pull the USA out of its 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and reinstate tough sanctions. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel had retaliated with its largest strike in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, and that Israel had hit "nearly all" Iranian military facilities in Syria.

"This is a risky moment and it will take real restraint on both sides to keep this from escalating into a major conflict", she told ThinkProgress by email. Meanwhile, Iran's government has faced growing domestic criticism for pursuing expensive military adventures overseas while the economy stagnates; this latest setback is likely to fuel those grievances. For Israel, though, she said it's "really hard to pick a dog in this fight".

Iran could directly attack Israel or alternatively activate its proxy Hezbollah. "Israel has enormous military superiority and can hit anything it chooses", said Slavin.

Before Israel's latest wave of strikes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and apparently obtained Mr. Putin's assent to bomb a Russian ally inside Russian-controlled air space. "This is also a safer bet now that Assad has largely retaken control over the country".

Israel says it has conducted dozens of operations in Syria to stop what it says are advanced arms deliveries to one of its main foes, Iran-backed Hezbollah.

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