Israeli officials have expressed concern over reports of a major Russian military buildup in neighboring Syria, a move that could have far-reaching ramifications for the Jewish state.
A number of sources have recently noted a major influx of Russian personnel and equipment, including fighter jets, into war-torn Syria, presumably to prop up the embattled regime of Bashar Assad.
“We have been informed that the Russians are entering into active intervention,” Amos Gilad, senior adviser to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, said at a recent security conference.
Ram Ben-Barak, director-general of Israel’s Intelligence Ministry, told Reuters that this development “could [have] ramifications for us, certainly.”
The first, and most obvious, concern is that periodic Israeli strikes on Syrian targets could inadvertently result in Russian casualties, bringing Jerusalem and Moscow into direct conflict.
Israel has launched numerous air strikes on Syrian regime military convoys suspected of transferring advanced weapons to its Hezbollah allies. The IDF has also routinely returned fire into Syria any time Syrian ordnance hits the Israeli Golan Heights.
An additional reason for worry is that this development further highlights the waning influence and power of America in the Middle East.
At the same time, ISIS and the other jihadist forces currently tearing the region apart need to be stopped, and many living here feel America and other Western powers are doing far too little to make that happen.