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Russian air strikes in south Syria ‘raise potential for friction’ with Israel



Russian air strikes in southern Syria represent a rise in the potential for inadvertent friction with Israel, a senior air combat expert told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Abraham Assael, CEO of the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Herzliya, spoke a day after the international media reported that the Russian air force carried out strikes in Syria’s southern Deraa province, near the Jordanian border, for the first time since Moscow directly intervened in the Syrian civil war – the closest that Russian jets have come to the Israeli border.

Referring to an incident in September 2014 in which the Israel Air Force Patriot missile downed a Syrian Sukhoi-24 jet that breached Israeli air space, Assel said that the shoot-down is “an example of the sensitivity that these things can cause. We do not know what the end result can be [from such incidents].”

Although Israel and Russia have set up a joint working group to create a deconfliction mechanism to prevent inadvertent fire incidents in the air, sea, and the electromagnetic spectrum, Assael cautioned that human error could undermine such efforts.

“As soon as the potential for friction goes up, even a very advanced and up-to-date mechanism cannot prevent human errors. If one side says, ‘Do not come close to this border,’ but someone breaches that, then what happens?” he asked.

Assael, who in June took up his post as


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