With its troops and military infrastructure stationed just 50 kilometres from the Israeli border, Iran is threatening a military confrontation that could further destabilise the region, create a humanitarian catastrophe and send thousands more refugees fleeing for safety. Israel launched air strikes against Iranian military targets inside Syria on Sunday, killing four soldiers and injuring many more.
They came after the Israeli Iron Dome defence system intercepted missiles fired towards the disputed Golan Heights. “You should be afraid of the day that our precision-guided missiles roar and fall on your head,” Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Mohammad Al Jafari had earlier warned Tel Aviv.
As these pages have repeatedly argued, the myriad actors involved in this intractable war need to view Syria less as an instrument for geopolitical power-building and more in the light of a country torn apart by conflict and which needs to heal.
But one cannot escape the reality that Iranian interference in Syria has increased the prospect of all-out war. And with decades old hostilities and a territorial dispute over the Golan Heights between Israel on one side, and Iran and Syria on the other, the cost and impact of such a conflict on the lives of innocent Syrians would be devastating.