Israel’s repeated attacks on Syria are leading to a military escalation against United States forces in the war-torn country. Damascus and its allies, mainly Tehran, are apparently attempting to indirectly deter Tel Aviv and mount some pressure on Washington.
The last round of escalation began on March 12 when a series of Israeli strikes hit the western Syrian governorates of Tartus and Hama.
Two F-16 fighter jets of the Israeli Air Force launched the strikes from the direction of northern Lebanon. The targets were reportedly an air defense base located near the town of al-Sifsafeh in the southern countryside of Tartus and a key facility of the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) in the town of Masyaf in the western Hama countryside.
The SSRC develops and manufactures weapon systems, including precision-guided missiles and drones, for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The center was accused by Israel and other sides of cooperating with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and providing weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon on several occasions in the past.
According to the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria, the SSRC sustained material losses as a result of the Israeli strikes. In addition, three service members of the SAA were killed.
A day after the strikes, on March 13, the U.S.-led coalition’s largest base in Syria’s northeastern region came under attack.
The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said that two rockets fell near the Green Village base, which is located within al-Omar oil fields in the southeastern countryside of Deir Ezzor. According to a statement by the command, no U.S. or coalition troops were killed or wounded and there was no damage to coalition infrastructure or equipment.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, so far. However, it was unofficially blamed on Iranian-backed forces which maintain a large presence in the government-held part of Deir Ezzor governorate.
The rocket attack on the U.S. Green Village base was widely seen by observers as a response to the Israeli strikes on Tartus and Hama.
The attack came around a week after General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, paid an unannounced visit to an undisclosed base in northeastern Syria. One of the main goals of the visit was to assess safeguards for American troops against attacks.
Attacks on U.S. bases in Syria will not likely deter Israel. However, they could mount some pressure on Washington. As for now, it appears to be that direct attacks against Israel are off the table for Damascus and its allies, most likely to deny Tel Aviv any excuse it could use to launch a full-blown military operation against Syria.