Syrian Actions Were 'Clear Messages to Israel,' Assad's Regime Says

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IDF troops overlooking the border at the northern Golan Heights on February 10, 2018 following the exchanges of fire with Syria.
IDF troops overlooking the border at the northern Golan Heights on February 10, 2018 following the exchanges of fire with Syria.Credit: Gil Eliahu

The downing of an Israeli fighter jet on Saturday by Syrian regime forces preoccupied the regime’s PR machinery on Saturday. 

The Syrian regime said that the downing of the Israeli fighter jet “set new rules of the game in the position of Syria and its allies with regard to all future Israeli aggression."
The regime’s statements were widely quoted in its official outlets and those of its allies, calling the decision to bring down the aircraft “a strategic decision of Syria and the axis of resistance to Israel.” The statements added: “We are not facing all-out war but these are clear messages to Israel.”
An entity known as the “Operations Room of the Allies in Syria Including Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards” released a statement saying: “Israel’s acts of terror will not go by the board from now on.

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The deputy head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami said: “We have the capability of opening up the gates of hell against Israel if we want to.”

In fact, Syria as well as Iran and Hezbollah realize that downing the Israeli aircraft will not lead to a collapse of Israel’s aerial power and at this point this is not a tie-breaker but a message and an incident the regime intends to exploit to the fullest for propaganda purposes. Syrian media outlets gave prominent attention to confusion on Israeli media channels while almost completely ignoring Israel’s massive assaults on military bases and aerial defenses near Damascus and in the Dar’a area of southern Syria, and other targets without mentioning damage or casualties if any.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil instructed Lebanon’s UN mission to lodge a complaint in the Security Council against Israel for using Lebanese airspace to attack Syria.

Hezbollah’s response supported Syria, as expected, and said the downing of the plane signified the start of a new phase in which violations of Syrian and Lebanese sovereignty would not be ignored.   

Similar responses were forthcoming from the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, which has so far refrained from taking a clear position. Hamas' military wing declared a state of alert in the Gaza Strip and said they were prepared for any Israeli aggression. A spokesman for the military wing of Islamic Jihad, Daud Shihab, called the downing of the plane a ringing slap in Israel’s face, and added that the axis of resistance showed that there are still those who will stand up to Israel. The Popular Front, some of whose members are in Damascus, said that shooting down the Israeli fighter plane was part of support for the resistance of the Palestinian people.

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