Iran supreme leader's aide says US should leave Syria, defends Tehran's presence

HR Prompts SMH to Correct Iranian Drone Error

That's the reason Israel stepped up its air attacks on February 10, focusing on what it called "Iranian bases", and why the United States has announced it will maintain and increase its troop levels in Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the attack, saying his country delivered "severe blows to the Iranian and Syrian forces".

Whatever the differences in goals and tactics of the imperialist and reactionary militaries intervening against Syria's people - which include the US, its European NATO imperialist allies, Turkey, Israel and various reactionary sectarian militias - the people of Syria have the right to fight and to make their own alliances to preserve their independence and national sovereignty against any and all of these forces. President Vladimir Putin has not officially confirmed this to his country.

Moscow having won big in Syria has tried to remain neutral between the Israelis and the Iranians, but how long can it continue its delicate diplomacy? There are the forces loyal to Bashar Assad, militants controlled by Iran including those from Hezbollah, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) supported by Turkey, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which includes the US -backed People's Protection Units (YPG), Daesh - which nobody knows who is behind - and the Nusra Front, which benefits from the support of various players who change frequently.

Assad's forces responded by killing dozens, igniting a full-blown civil war to overthrow the regime. The Russians have nothing more to gain in Syria, for them it is just about losses. A move that would set Iran back significantly.

Propping up Assad isn't really so much about helping Assad. Numerous other reports, photographic evidence and the IDF's own video, clearly detail an Iranian drone in Israeli airspace-and Israel's subsequent response. So Russia's decision to help Assad is more about supporting Iran.

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Hence the Iranian determination to follow through with this strategy despite their clear understanding of Israel's red lines. This was the first time Israel has attacked a manned Iranian base in Syria. So far Iran has stood resolute in Syria and Iraq in spite of the US and Israel's opposition to Tehran's recent aggressive military policy in the Middle East.

Furthermore, it would appear that President Assad is not going to be removed from power anytime soon.

For the mullahs, Syria is a fundamental building block - in addition to Iraq and Lebanon - in Tehran's plans to cobble together a swath of power across the Middle East, spanning from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. Also, a couple of Israeli jets were downed by Iran. Such an opportunity to cement influence in Syria that has gone unopposed militarily by Iran's Arab neighbours may not arise again for some time. The cost in human lives alone must make him see that by now. And all this is being done with implicit cover, if not explicit support, from Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation.

Trump's unwillingness to confront Russian Federation on this and so many other significant issues is long-standing, and from the perspective of someone who ostensibly wants to protect American interests, makes little sense. Saudi Arabia has nearly twice the GDP of Iran.

"In a serious military and diplomatic crisis between powerful nation-states, where the global community would in past years look to the USA for leadership, all eyes are on Moscow for direction". Maybe the growing risk of inter-state wars will serve as a sign for the countries involved that tells them where to stop. After this past weekend, that choice really isn't that hard at all.

Pat Buchanan is a political commentator, author and syndicated columnist.

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