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Why Iran doesn’t want escalation in Syria

Contrary to the narrative that Iran wants to drag Israel into the Syrian war, Tehran appears to have no incentive to do so.
A picture taken in the northern Israeli Kibbutz of Harduf on February 10, 2018, shows the remains of an Israel F-16 that crashed after coming under fire by Syrian air defences during attacks against "Iranian targets" in the war-torn country. / AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ        (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

The downing of an Israeli F-16 by the Syrian military on Feb. 10 has once again triggered speculations about a possible direct confrontation between Iran and Israel. Shortly after the incident, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran “violated our sovereignty, and infiltrated its drone into Israeli airspace from Syria.” Referring to his previous “warnings” about Iran’s presence in Syria, he also stressed that “Israel will defend itself against any aggression.” Meanwhile, the Israeli army announced that in a retaliatory operation it had struck a number of sites in Syria, including “four Iranian targets near the capital Damascus.”

Reacting to the Israeli claims, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi rejected Iran’s involvement in these events, saying that “the claim of the Zionist regime that an F-16 has been shot down and the involvement of an Iranian drone are too risible to be discussed. The Islamic Republic of Iran has an advisory presence in Syria at the request of its legitimate government.” The following day, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani labeled the claims made by Tel Aviv as “a lie,” also underlining that Iran’s presence in Syria is “advisory, not military.”

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