On October 28th, 2023, it was reported that the Syrian regime has conveyed its commitment to several countries not to expand the ongoing conflict in Gaza beyond its borders. The regime aims to maintain calm on its front, and prevent Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran from utilizing Syrian territory if the conflict spreads beyond Israel and Gaza. Key figures from the Syrian government, including Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad and National Security Office head Major General Ali Mamlouk, engaged in diplomatic and security discussions with Russia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanese Hezbollah.
The Syrian regime’s decision to avoid further military engagement comes in response to recent Israeli airstrikes on various areas in Syria, particularly civilian airports in Aleppo and Damascus, which Tehran uses for transporting arms to Hezbollah and other affiliated militias in Syria. Major General Ali Mamlouk has also communicated the necessity of halting attacks against Israel from southern Syrian territory to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard leadership in Syria.
Meanwhile, missile bombardments originating from the western countryside of Daraa have indicated the Syrian regime’s efforts to distance itself from the ongoing escalation. These attacks are attributed to Iranian militias rather than official Syrian forces, signalling the regime’s desire to avoid provoking a strong Israeli response in light of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
Regarding the Israeli response, the Israeli army announced that it conducted air raids on Syrian military infrastructure and mortars, citing retaliation for missile launches from Syria toward Israel. The targeted location belonged to the Syrian regime’s 12th Brigade near Izraa, believed to be the source of Katyusha rocket attacks on the Golan Heights.
In the context of Israeli bombings, the Syrian Ministry of Transport previously reported that both Damascus and Aleppo airports were rendered inoperative due to simultaneous Israeli airstrikes. This marks the second bombing incident since the start of the “Al-Aqsa Flood” campaign initiated by Hamas’ military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, on October 7, 2023.
In the midst of the Gaza conflict, American bases in Syria and Iraq have been subjected to 13 attacks within a span of ten days, constituting the largest number of attacks on U.S. forces in a short period. These attacks resulted in 24 injuries, as reported by NBC News, although the Pentagon confirmed that these injuries were minor. Notably, two separate drone attacks occurred on the Syrian Al-Tanf base on October 18 and the Ain Al-Assad base in western Iraq, both housing U.S. and international coalition forces fighting ISIS.
The majority of attacks were directed at American bases in Iraq, with ten incidents compared to three in Syria. The Pentagon spokesman, Patrick Ryder, affirmed this, attributing the attacks to militias supported by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and suggesting Iranian involvement.
U.S. President Joe Biden personally directed airstrikes on October 26, targeting facilities used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and affiliated groups for military purposes. The “Islamic Resistance in Iraq” claimed responsibility for the attack on the Al-Tanf base using two drones, while activists reported a drone attack on the American base in Tal Kochar, Al-Hasakah Governorate.
Additionally, Iranian militias continued to launch mortar shells from areas in the western countryside of Daraa, notably the hill west of Tal al-Jabiya. This hill, within the area of the 61st Infantry Brigade, is strategically important as it faces the Syrian Golan Heights and is a stronghold for Hezbollah and Iranian militias.
It is evident that the Syrian regime is cognizant of Iran’s desire to contain the conflict and prevent its spread beyond regional borders. Syria appears to be seeking negotiation conditions that favour its interests while minimizing the impact on civilian airports and its public image, even if targeting militia strongholds and Iranian weapon shipments in other regions remains on the table.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.