The situation in the Middle East remains chaotic, even if the Syrian Civil War seems to be in its final stage. Israel just had to take down one of the war’s more emboldened participants.
On Monday, Tel Aviv used a Patriot missile to shoot down a drone believed to be operated by Hezbollah. The drone was taken out of the sky as it tried to infiltrate the Golan Heights.
The Golan Heights is Israel’s version of the DMZ that separates the Jewish state from Syria.
Israeli Air Force jets scrambled to the border region as the Iranian-made drone was hit with the American-made missile.
The Israeli Defense Force used a simple, terse statement following the incident: “A short while ago, the IDF intercepted a UAV that attempted to infiltrate Israeli airspace in the Golan Heights.”
So far, Israeli investigators believe that the drone was launched from Syria with the purpose of making a reconnaissance flight.
A similar incident occurred in April when Israeli missiles took down a drone launched from Syrian airspace.
The IDF and Israeli intelligence services believe that the Damascus airport is one of many storage facilities where Iranian weapons are housed. As for the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, it is no friend of Israel and several border incidents near the Golan Heights have erupted during the Syrian Civil War. In particular, stray artillery shells lobbed by either the Syrian Arab Army or its various affiliates have forced the Israeli army into several confrontations.
Many on the other side in Syria accuse Tel Aviv of providing support to the Syrian rebels, even including ISIS. The IDF publicly admitted to helping Syrian rebels in return for providing safety for Syria’s Druze minority. IDF soldiers have been known to bring wounded rebel fighters into Israel for treatment, and some even accuse Tel Aviv of providing weapons to the mostly jihadist rebel factions.
The situation for Israel may get more complicated now that the SAA and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are on the verge of completely routing ISIS.
As for the Syrian rebels, their pathway towards a military victory is now all but completely closed.
For Israel, this means not only that President Assad will likely remain in power, but that his allies in Hezbollah may feel emboldened by their battlefield victories in Syria and eastern Lebanon. The Iranian-backed terrorist group has long supported the idea of wiping Israel off of the map, but has never had the capability to do such a thing.
Now supplied with battle-hardened soldiers, Iranian and Syrian cash, and Russian aid, Hezbollah could be a serious threat to Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. However, there is the very real possibility that this militia force could be exhausted and overextended due to its high casualty rate and its long engagement in the Syrian conflict.
As the Syrian conflict reaches its climax, expect more Hezbollah and Iranian reconnaissance flights over Israel’s border regions. Thanks to on-the-ground victories and Russian support, Iran may feel like the new hegemon in the region and is thus willing to flex its muscles.