While Israel continues to downplay the risks, experts see the recent rounds of attacks on Syria as exceedingly dangerous, threatening to ignite the powderkeg of Syria’s internal civil war into a region-wide conflict.
Syria and Israel have been in a state of war for decades, but haven’t fought seriously in nearly 40 years. The new strikes bring the two sides back to the brink of a war which, despite the rhetoric, both sides have long sought to avoid.
Israel launched two separate attacks over the past several days, with a Friday strike followed up with a round of Sunday strikes causing explosions around the capital city. Casualties were reported, but the details are still unclear.
Israeli officials say that they don’t believe there will be any retaliation for the strikes, though publicly no officials have even gone on the record confirming that the attack took place, leaving everything to anonymous comments in the Israeli press.
Israeli analysts don’t see this as nearly the risk-free attack it’s being made out to be, however, believing that Assad, already weakened by the civil war, is being put in a position to recklessly respond, potentially sucking much of the region into a much bigger conflict.
The attacks are also bringing Syria’s rivals to their defense publicly, with the Arab League and Egypt both blasting the Israeli attacks despite both being on board with the Syrian regime change. The Assad government is hoping to use this sympathy to paint the rebels as Israel-backed, while Western officials are painting Israel’s attack as justification to back the rebels even more, meaning the conflict is escalating on a number of fronts, leaving open the question of whether it will calm down or simply careen out of control.