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Sun, 08 Dec 2019 19:52 GMT

Damascus Airport Blast Triggers New Tension with Iran

Politics

Reem Leila

Wed, 20 Nov 2019 00:11 GMT

It is believed that Iranian militias were behind the explosion on Tuesday November 19th which resulted from the firing of four rockets near Damascus airport as part of a newly-adopted vengeance policy against Israeli strikes in the region.

The rockets fired from Syria extend Iranian involvement in the region, as well as its attempt to create a path of power across Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and to threaten Israel from areas near the Golan Heights.

Explosions were heard near Damascus airport as four rockets were fired. Local Syrian media did not provide further details regarding source of the explosion or its nature, whereas Israeli media immediately declared it intercepted four rockets fired from Syria over the Golan Heights by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

According to France24, it is believed that the attack followed Israel’s airstrike against Gaza Strip and Syria targeting two senior figures from the militant group Islamic Jihad. The airstrike resulted in the death of Bahaa Abu Al-Atta, 42, a top leader of the Islamic Jihad group which is allied with Damascus.

Political analysts speculate the firing of the four rockets is part of Iran's new policy to combat Israel's in-between wars campaign to postpone the next confrontation.

Iran has operated proxies while trying to establish its military presence in remote areas of Syria in an attempt to secure a path from Iran through Iraq to Syria.

According to Daily Mail, Israel fired the missiles in response to the attack from Syria. Israel has frequently been attacking targets inside Syria with missiles or airstrikes since the country slipped into civil war in 2011.

Most of the attacks were directed against what Israel believes are Iranian targets or positions of Iran's Lebanese ally, the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

During the past few months there have been a series of strange airstrikes targeting Iraqi Shiite militias along the Iraq-Syria borders. Iran supports these militias because they control essential crossings on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq.

The latest attack comes amid heightened tensions between Israel and Iranian militias along its borders. Relatedly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently warned of the threat of Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East.

Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel's northern neighbor, and it supports Hezbollah group in Lebanon. It supplies Islamic Jihad with cash, weapons and expertise in Gaza. At the same time, Iran's regional influence is being challenged by mass protests in Iraq and Lebanon due to economic and political dysfunction.

Iran enjoys considerable influence in these two countries, and the ongoing protest movements within them have created a state of social instability which could ignite a backlash against local Iran-backed proxy militias.

It is not the first time the Iranians have responded to Israeli attacks. For example, Iran attempted to launch explosive-laden drones from the Syrian Golan to Israel back in August, an attack that was thwarted by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

The IDF has not currently taken any exceptional security measures. Schools in the north operated as usual this morning, and farmers have also been given permission to work in areas near the border.

This suggests that the army sees this pre-dawn rocket fire at the Golan Heights as being little more than a routine Iranian reaction to continuous Israeli strikes.

Middle East