Syrian anti-aircraft batteries scored a rare shoot-down of an Israeli F-16 late Saturday morning local time. It is being alleged by a whole range of analysts that this shoot-down could not have happened without Russian help. It required that the anti-aircraft personnel break Israeli radar jamming. Since Russia supplies Syrian anti-aircraft weaponry, and Russian technicians maintain it and train their Syrian colleagues, a Russian hand here is highly likely.
Israel has been attempting to inflict attrition on Iranian activities in southwestern Syria, as Maysam Behravesh reported for the Cairo Review of Global Affairs. These include transferring weaponry to Lebanon’s Hizbullah and the establishment of small facilities for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in the Damascus region (the IRGC is said to have 2,500 personnel in Syria, mainly in an advisory capacity). The Iraqi Nujaba Party of God, a Shiite militia, is also active in Syria and is dedicated to the liberation of the Occupied Golan Heights.
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At the same time, the Israelis took advantage of the Syrian revolution and the establishment of rebel positions in Quneitra Province (the Golan Heights and points east) to give support to the rebels, including the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front (Syrian Conquest Front). Gradually this Israeli-rebel nexus has produced what the Israelis call a “safe zone”abutting their occupied territory on the Golan, as Nour Samaha reported for the Intercept last month. Its purpose is to keep Hizbullah and Iran out of Quneitra and away from the Israeli border.