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Israel, Hezbollah playing Russian roulette in Syria

Russia has managed to prevent confrontations between Israel and Hezbollah in Syria, but will its luck run out in the long term?

On Oct. 25, Israel unmasked the identity of the Hezbollah commander in charge of the southern Syria front, and the Iranian-backed Lebanese movement reacted a day later by releasing photos taken inside an Israeli settlement. While these acts might be interpreted as psychological warfare, they inherently reflect how both sides are striving to set limits on their rules of engagement in Syria. They also highlight the critical role Russia has increasingly played in preventing clashes between Israel and Hezbollah on the Golan Heights.

Three phases have defined the confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah in the past decade: The July 2006 war set new rules of engagement by restricting the scope of the conflict to Lebanese territory under Israeli occupation (mainly Shebaa Farms); between 2011 and 2015, the Syrian conflict expanded the battlefield and challenged the tactics of a covert war; since 2015, the Russian intervention in Syria has made Moscow the de facto power broker, containing potentially serious fallout from their enmity

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