Russian and Israeli warplanes play cat and mouse over Syria
Syrian media reported an Israeli air force attack Sunday, Nov. 1, after two sorties Friday night against Syrian army and Hizballah bases in the Qalamoun Mountains on the Lebanese border. The IDF declined to confirm or deny these reports. Syrian sources described a large number of Israeli airplanes as bombing a Hizballah unit based in the village of El Ain in northern Lebanon and the arms depot of the 155th Brigade of the Syrian army at Al-Katifa to the east.
The two targets are 70 km apart. So these air strikes must have targeted two key points along the Iranian arms supply route to Hizballah.
They also raise three important questions:
1. Did Israel’s Tel Aviv command center use the hotline to Russian headquarters to give Moscow prior warning of air strikes against Syrian and Hizballah targets, explaining that no harm was intended to the Russian military in Syria?
Hardly likely; the Russians would not be expected to tolerate Israeli bombardments so close to their own military enclave in Latakia province.
2. Did Russian surveillance planes and stations detect the approach of Israel’s bombers and decide not to interfere?
After all, Israel has turned a blind eye to repeated Russian air strikes in the last few days against rebel positions in the southern Syrian town of Deraa and Quneitra opposite IDF Golan positions. The two cases suggest a gentlemen’s agreement between Russia and Israel to abstain from interfering with each other’s air operations over Syria, so long as there are no direct clashes between the two air forces. This could easily have happened when Russian planes bombed Quneitra.
So is Moscow giving Israel enough aerial leeway
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