By Monday afternoon, Syria’s tanks, planes and missiles had yet to turn against Israel in revenge for an air raid against a number of miitary targets the night before that left 10 soldiers dead, according to an activist report.
Syria doesn’t have many options right now. Bashar Assad’s regime has no immediate interest in an escalation after the Israeli strike.
But the question remains as to why the confrontation was touched off in the first place, when someone in the Syrian army apparently fired an anti-tank missile at a vehicle in Israel, killing a teenager and injuring three more?
The Israeli strike on nine Syrian military installations and positions overnight came after the IDF concluded that the missile that killed 15-year-old Mohammad Karkara was fired by a Syrian soldier. The possibility that it was an Hezbollah operation is seemingly considered less likely, as is the idea that it was fired by a member of the Syrian opposition.
The area in the Syrian Golan opposite Tel Hazeka is under the control of Assad’s army. Still, it is often a battleground between regime and opposition forces, and there is a significant rebel presence there. But according to the IDF, the missile came from the north, an area where Assad’s control is firmer.
The missile was partly blocked by the new, strong border fence, and while it was still fatal, it could have caused more deaths.
Could the missile have been fired by a renegade Syrian soldier? Or perhaps a soldier who was paid by the opposition to fire into Israel? In the chaos that is Syria, anything is possible.
What is known, though, is that with fighting in Syria continuing, Assad may not have the option of striking back at Israel.
On Monday morning the official Syrian news agency SANA reported that the military killed 40 terror operatives from a variety of nationalities in fighting in the Quneitra area, close to where Sunday’s incident occurred.
Extremist Islamist groups have a presence there, including the Al-Nusra Front, affiliated with al-Qaeda, and a rival of the burgeoning Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, better known as ISIL or ISIS.
ISIL continues its conquest in Iraq, and it is now using captured Iraqi army vehicles and arms in fighting in Syria. This is how US military Humvees, which were sold to Iraq, are now being used in fighting near Aleppo, according to Arab media reports.
What a small world.