Israel’s U.N. Ambassador sent a letter Monday to the U.N. Security Council stating that Israel cannot ‘stand idle’ while the lives of it's citizens are put at risk due to 'war spill over' on the Golan Heights border; placing the blame for the increased insecurity squarely at the feet of Pres. Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Technically, Israel and Syria have remained in a state of war since the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. However, Israel has maintained neutrality in Syria’s civil war even though stray rounds of artillery, mortar and rocket fire have landed on the Israeli side of the Golan ceasefire line. Israel abstained from any retaliation with the exception on one incident in Oct. 2012 in which Israel destroyed Syrian artillery which had fired into the Golan.
Pres. Assad has long accused Israel of working with the rebels and even of having a secret alliance with al-Qaida just for the purpose of overthrowing his regime. The incidents in the Golan may have been an attempt to provoke a large scale Israeli response; for Assad to then attempt to use to rally all Syrians against Israel and make at least temporary truce with the rebels fighting to overthrow his government.
The only major military action Israel has taken is one devastating air strike Jan. 30 on what is believed to have been a Syrian chemical weapons facility. It was during this strike, that Iranian Gen. Hassan Shateri was also killed. Theories abound as to whether the Free Syrian Army (FSA) aided the Israelis in coordinating the air strike.
In the weeks since that airstrike fighting has broken out between the FSA and Hezbollah forces present inside Syria. The FSA also conducted a sustained artillery bombardment of Hezbollah positions inside southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah provoked this FSA response after occupying several villages on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon as a staging area and then launching a ground attack in the direction of Homs; possibly to relieve besieged Syrian forces there or help reopen a route between the Syrian coast and Damascus after the latter became encircled by rebel forces.
Elsewhere in Syria, rebel forces have completed their conquest of the city of Aleppo. The city of Raqqa in the northeast of Syria fell into rebel hands yesterday along with the Raqqa provincial governor and head Baath Party offical. During the fighting for Raqqa a detachment of Syrian troops accompanied by Syrian government employees crossed the border into Iraq and surrendered to Iraqi security forces.
Yesterday while being transported unarmed back to government held territory further to the south in Syria, the detachment came under attack by an as yet unknown force just inside Iraq with a coordinated mortar barrage and a ground assault leaving 42 Syrian troops dead along with seven Iraqi soldiers.
The identity of the attacking forces is theorized to have been ‘al-Qaida in Iraq’ militiamen. However, ‘al-Qaida in Iraq’ are composed Iraqi Sunnis who made a tenuous alliance with al-Qaida during the insurgency against U.S. and coalition troops during the occupation of Iraq.
That alliance ended with local Sunni militia joining the fight against al-Qaida alongside coalition forces. If it was the Sunni militia who made the attack it is much more likely they were acting in support of their fellow Sunnis fighting next door in Syria.
There is currently a state of civil unrest taking place between Iraqi Sunnis and Iraqi Shiites, with multiple suicide bombings occurring back and fort between the two sects. Iraqi Sunnis view the Shiite led government in Baghdad as aligned with both Iran's Shiite Mullahs and their decades long ally, the Assad regime in Syria.
The attack occurred barely two days after an attack on a Syrian border outpost by Iraqi Army forces which had just been captured by Syrian rebel troops. Baghdad denies their forces took any action but there were no Syrian government troops in the area aside from those killed or captured by the rebels and the attack was made from Iraq.