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Is Israel being pulled into Syrian war?

With growing tension in the Golan Heights and fears of the Syrian civil war spilling over, the IDF is establishing special commando units able to confront IS-affiliated militants.
Israeli soldiers from the 605 Combat Engineering Corps battalion take part in a training session on the Israeli side of the border between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights June 1, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo - RTX2O7HR

Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011, Israel has succeeded in maneuvering between the different players in this complex arena without getting swept into the fire itself. Israeli deterrence has succeeded in stabilizing an alignment of checks and balances that has proven itself: Hezbollah’s attempts to open a “second front” against Israel on the Golan Heights — in addition to the Israeli-Lebanese border — have been blocked and have failed. The Israeli Golan is usually quiet, while on the other side, at a distance of several hundred meters, an intransigent and brutal war is taking place between Assad’s forces, backed by Hezbollah, and the rebel forces.

Every so often an errant mortar shell lands on the Israeli side, the IDF responds with force and destroys a Syrian army position, and quiet returns. That’s how it has been handled for more than five years. In the background, the slander continues regarding Israel’s alleged cooperation with the Shuhada al-Yarmouk organization (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade), the local branch of the Islamic State (IS) that controls a limited sector on the Israeli border on the Golan Heights. Senior Israeli figures have strongly denied such cooperation for the entire period. “We have no connection or interest with them,” a senior officer in the sector told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “Israel doesn’t interest them, and as long as that’s the situation, they don’t interest us.”

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