The downing of the Israeli jet: towards a 'Third Lebanon War?'

UN officials Church leaders decry escalating situation in Syria

Israel has never supported the trilateral agreement to enforce a de-escalation zone in southern Syria for failing to contain Iran's presence in that area.

It seems that just hours before the jet, an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace and was shut down.

Some Israeli reports claimed that a direct hit had not occurred and that shrapnel from an exploding missile had pierced through the warplane.

So far, other European countries have remained largely silent on the latest Israel-Iran-Syria military clash.

In the past week, the US military opened a new bombing attack on forces loyal to the government in Damascus and the Israeli Air Force targeted what it called "Iranian bases" in Syria with a massive attack. Two of the most memorable foreign policy moves by Trump were the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and the $350 billion (largest in USA history) arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The Israeli air force will understand that the unchallenged impunity with which it has struck targets in Syria - acknowledged or not - for many years no longer quite holds.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is a member of the security cabinet, told a conference in Tel Aviv last week that action must be taken against the Islamic Republic directly.

This time it is Russian Federation that keeps casting a Security Council veto, preventing action, just as the USA has done (many more times) on behalf of Israel.

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"I don't necessarily mean armed conflict", he maintained. But Russia, the major powerbroker in Syria, called for restraint, and urged parties to respect the country's sovereignty. Also, a couple of Israeli jets were downed by Iran. The Iranian backed "Shia crescent" that King Abdullah II of Jordan warned of back in 2004 would thus become fragmented, spelling the retreat of Tehran's expansion. "We will not waste our resources and energy fighting in Lebanese towns while you [Iran's leaders] recline in your chair and watch", Bennett underlined. Even if one of the belligerents wins this war on the battlefield, neither of them can win at the negotiation table that would appear afterwards.

Combustible elements to ignite an Israeli-Iranian war are now in place in Syria.

Tehran's vision of Syria as the ideal place to set up militarily alongside Israel can not go unchecked. Tehran seeks to exert significant influence in the region-not only over Israel, but also over other Iranian rivals-and control a land corridor that weaves from Tehran to Iraq to northern Syria, ending in the Mediterranean port city of Latakia.

In the east, the US military launched rare airstrikes on pro-government fighters following a coordinated assault on USA -backed forces accompanied by USA advisers. The Syrian military, which has previously absorbed occasional Israeli strikes, activated its air defense systems and shot down at least one Israeli F-16. "They don't want that".

On Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the success of the strikes, but made no mention of future operations. The question now is whether the Trump administration will go further. "One can assume messages of this nature were conveyed during the phone call with Netanyahu", says Haaretz.

Regional order - knocked off balance by the 2003 invasion of Iraq - is being reshaped here (as well as in Yemen) in a series of proxy engagements and mini-conflicts that, aside from Syrians fighting Syrians, take in nearly all the region's players: Turks fight Kurds, Israel bombs Hizballah targets and Arab Gulf proxies take on Iranian-backed forces. Stories like this are made possible by readers like you.

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