Russia slams ‘vicious’ Israel for striking Damascus airport, causing counter-terrorism setback

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Ann Arbor (lit commentary) – Friday, According to Tass, Maria Zakharova, The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said of Israel’s pre-dawn Friday bombardment of the runways of Damascus International Airport, closing it: “We demand that the Israeli side stop this vicious and dangerous practice.” .

Zakharova made clear the reason for Moscow’s unusually fierce condemnation of Israel, saying such attacks “lead to a decrease in the military capability of the Syrian Armed Forces and negatively impact the effectiveness of counterterrorism efforts.” on Syrian soil. ”

Backed by Russian Aerospace Forces, Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government has won the civil war, but still faces challenges from hardline Muslim guerrillas based in the northern province of Idlib, which enjoys some cover thanks to the Turkish support. The Idlib-based Levant Liberation Council (Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham or HTS) remains a threat to the Syrian government.

Russia and al-Assad’s government depend on Iranian, Iraqi and Lebanese Shia fighters to control Sunni fundamentalist guerrillas, which angers Israel. The Israelis do not like being direct neighbors of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and do not like that the southern Lebanese party militia, Hezbollah, has free rein in Syria, from which they could draw rockets on Israel.

Israel and Russia have worked out a framework for security cooperation that allows Israel to hit Shia militias if they stray from their mission to fight Sunni fundamentalists and start plotting to hit Israel, or if they get too bold using Syria to import heavy weapons with which Hezbollah could confront Israel in southern Lebanon.

The Israelis say they hit Damascus airport because it was used to bring weapons from Iran for Hezbollah.

While the Israeli-Russian “deconfliction mechanism” appears to work when Israel simply hits a Hezbollah convoy, attacking Damascus airport goes beyond simply targeting Hezbollah to affect the proper functioning of the Ba’ath government itself. It may also have endangered Russian personnel at the airport, and we know that in the past President Vladimir Putin has read the Israeli Prime Minister the riot act whenever their strikes in Syria have come close to injuring the Russian troops.

Russia is bogged down in Ukraine and had to withdraw military personnel who were stationed in Syria, so Moscow feels vulnerable in Syria right now. Moreover, Vladimir Putin is unhappy with Israel’s neutrality on the Ukrainian question and its refusal to support Russia. In fact, although Israel refused to join the American boycott of the Russian economy, it voted against Russia both in the UN General Assembly and regarding Russian membership in the Union United Nations Human Rights Council because of his invasion of Ukraine.

The insecurity of Russia’s various adventures abroad helps explain why it has lashed out at Israel for what Moscow sees as actions that undermine the viability of the al-Assad government and provide aid and comfort to the militias Sunni fundamentalists.

Turkish President Tayyib Erdogan is also reportedly considering a new incursion into the Kurdish regions of Syria, which also poses a challenge to the Russian protectorate over Syria. The Syrian government says it is clashing with Turkish-backed groups in its north.

It is unclear whether Russia has the ability to stay strong in Syria and still win in Ukraine.

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