Israeli Commanders Push for Offensive Against Syria

Military on high alert, fearing Iranian retaliation

Israeli military commanders and Defense Ministry officials are pushing for a new offensive against neighboring Syria, with a focus on fighting Iran. In practice, this push includes not just fighting Iranian military presence in Syria, but Shi’ites in general.

Gadi Eisenkot and Avigdor Lieberman

Officials say that an increased military presence of Shi’ites in Syria is to be seen as a “red line” and that Israel needs to act to protect its interests. They estimate just under 20,000 Shi’ite forces in Syria, though only 2,000 are believed to be Iranian, with the majority either Hezbollah militia, or from the various Shi’ite militias from Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

This reflects long-standing Israeli policy of fighting Shi’ites in neighboring countries. Israel most recently attacked Syria Sunday, pounding an airbase in Homs. Among those slain were a number of Iranians. This has led Israel to put its military on high-alert, in case Iran retaliates.

Though there has been some mention of the alleged Saturday chemical weapons attack in Douma, Israel has largely not focused on that as a justification for their attacks in Syria. This is likely because Israel has regularly attacked Syria for years now, without such a pretext.

So while Israel seems to be hoping that the US and its coalition indeed start attacking Syria’s government over Douma, Israel probably won’t be involved in the matter. Instead, the Israeli attacks are likely to remain distinct from such conflicts, rather focusing on their priority of killing Iranians and other Shi’ites.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.