The Middle East is on the brink of a major imperial clash

UN officials Church leaders decry escalating situation in Syria

"The United States is deeply concerned about today's escalation of violence over Israel's border and strongly supports Israel's sovereign right to defend itself", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement, according to Reuters.

For years, Israel and Iran have attacked each other with words and through their proxies.

Israel has now sent warplanes to attack sites in the war-torn country, further complicating an already complex picture.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called on Saturday for urgent worldwide action, saying the past week in Syria "has been one of the bloodiest periods of the entire conflict".

To briefly recap: On Saturday, the Israeli Air Force shot down an Iranian drone flying in Israeli airspace.

The threat comes just days after the Syrian military -armed with equipment from Iran- shot down an Israel F16 fighter jet; prompting a fierce response from the Israeli military which immediately destroyed the anti-air battery. "We have never been stronger, more secure and able to chart our national course", Chuck Freilich, a former Israeli deputy national security adviser now at Harvard, said at a program I attended a couple of weeks ago at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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The first-ever direct strikes on manned Iranian fixtures in Syria also demonstrated what may become an important component of Israeli strategy to deter Iran in Syria: Iranian forces stationed in Damascus are 800 miles from Tehran and only a few dozen miles from Israel, which leaves them extremely vulnerable to Israeli aerial attacks. The organization fought in the Syrian Civil War and lost more than 2,000 members to this date.

Is the Assad regime really willing to allow Iran to start a war against Israel from Syrian territory?

To recapture oil fields lost in the war, forces backed by Assad crossed the Euphrates into territory taken from ISIS by the US and our Kurd allies. Who cares if they die? Why would one uninvited nation attack citizens of a host country?

The Defense secretary noted that everyone is "aware of when the Quds Force leadership is in Iraq or in Syria". It was the most serious flare-up between the neighbors since fighting began in Syria in 2011.

Now, it's Russian President Vladimir Putin's move. In the following months, Tel Aviv could rely on the unconditional backing of the Trump administration and the tacit support of the Sunni Gulf monarchies, to act preemptively against perceived threats by Iran and its allies. Moscow has no interest in a full-scale confrontation between Syria, Iran, and Israel, as such a conflict would endanger recent achievements in Syria. Jerusalem for years has been trying to make sure Tehran does not acquire nuclear weapons.

Not mentioned explicitly in either analysis, but likely obvious to anybody involved in the region, is that Russian Federation is the only power that's actually talking to both sides in the conflict.

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Also on February 10, according to the Israeli paper Haaretz, Kurdish fighters backed and armed by the USA shot down a Turkish attack helicopter.

The US, in pursuit of IS fighters, has mistakenly killed Syrian forces, and Russian Federation has accidentally struck US-backed forces.

"What happened is larger than a battle and a little less than a war".

Iran unveiled the Mohajer 6 drone, which is "equipped with the smart Qa'em precision-striking bombs and different electro-optical explorers and different warheads, [and] can trace, intercept and destroy the target", Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said in a speech around the anniversary of the the Islamic Revolution.

With Russia's military deeply enmeshed in Syria, it is in neither Israel's nor Russia's interest to clash and both are very aware of the danger of miscalculation.

What's the situation on the ground?

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