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Israel and Turkey escalated their military operations in Syria recently, in what appears to be an attempt to further their interests and expand their influence in the war-torn country while Russia is thought to be busy with its military operation in Ukraine.
Israeli attacks on Syria are becoming more frequent. Late on June 6, warplanes of the Israeli Air Force launched several guided missiles from the direction of the occupied Golan Heights at the southern outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus.
A source in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) said that many of the missiles were intercepted. However, some damage was reported near the town of the town of al-Kiswah, where several bases and research facilities of the SAA are located.
Early on June 8, the Israeli Defence Forces attacked again. Several Israeli battle tanks advanced in the UN-monitored buffer zone in the southern governorate of al-Quneitra and targeted an observation post of the SAA near the town of al-Malgah. The attack was a blatant violation of the 1974 separation of forces agreement.
Following the attack, the Israeli military dropped leaflets over al-Qunitra warning the officers and soldiers of the SAA against operating within the buffer zone.
Israel’s recent attacks were likely meant to further pressure Damascus over its alliance with Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah as well as to weaken its authority over the al-Quneitra buffer zone.
Meanwhile, Turkey continues to prepare to launch a new military operation against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern and northeastern Syria.
As of June 8, the Turkish military and its proxies continue to shell SDF-held areas in the northern and northeastern Aleppo countryside, the northern Raqqa countryside and the northern countryside of al-Hasakah. The presence of Russian forces and SAA units in these areas didn’t deter Ankara.
The Turkish military and its proxies also continue to amass their forces near the SDF-held towns of Tell Rifaat and Manbij in the northern Aleppo countryside. The two towns are expected to be the main targets of Turkey’s upcoming operation.
Russia has been working to restrain the actions of both Israel and Turkey in Syria by developing its cooperation with the SAA and expanding its military presence in hot regions.
On June 7, the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) and the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) concluded a joint live-fire exercise, which simulated facing “hostile” fighter jets and drones that violated Syrian airspace. During the exercise, Syrian and Russian fighter jets monitored and shot down hostile aerial threats at day and night.
Su-35s, Su-34 and Su-24M fighter jets from the VKS as well as MiG-23ML and MiG-29SM fighter jets from the SyAAF took part in the exercise.
Syrian and Russian warplanes also conducted a joint patrol along the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as well as over the country’s eastern and northern regions, where Turkish forces are present.
The exercise, which demonstrated Russia’s commitment to the safety and security of Syria, was likely a message to Israel and Turkey. Both countries have been attempting to marginalize the Russian role in the country.