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September 16, 2015 12:41 pm

Israel Mulls Approach to Syria After Russia Ramps Up Military Presence

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photos: Wikipedia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photos: Wikipedia. – Following the recent increase in Russia’s military presence in Syria, Israeli officials are reassessing how to handle the fallout of the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Israel has until now assumed a standoffish approach to the Syrian conflict, sporadically retaliating to attacks by targeting weapons depots and military convoys in Syria that it deemed threatening. But with the increase of Russian military support in Syria backing President Bashar al-Assad, Israeli officials may need to change tactics.

In the aftermath of reports indicating that Russia’s diplomatic and logistical support for Assad’s forces is turning into major military backing, Israel has started putting plans in place to avoid an accidental confrontation with Moscow.

Asked at the Interdisciplinary Center conference in Herzliya, Israel, if Russian intervention in Syria might necessitate new Israeli rules of engagement, Ram Ben-Barak, director-general of Israel’s Intelligence Ministry, said that “there could certainly be ramifications for us.”

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During the conference, experts described Russian policy in Syria as both an effort to shore up Assad and to mobilize Russian forces together with other world powers in order to suppress Islamic State terrorists.

Amos Gilad, senior adviser to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, said in a speech, “We have been informed that the Russians are entering into active intervention, the Americans are attacking…The West and now, in fact, the Russians and the whole world are trying to unite against [Islamic State].”

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