The Syrian conflict worsens

The ongoing crisis in Syria has dramatically escalated with Iran launching ballistic missile strikes against the ISIS targets in the region. Iran’s Iran Revolutionary Guards fired several missiles at ISIL positions in the Deir Az Zor province, Syria. Experts have noted that this is the first time Iran has..

The ongoing crisis in Syria has dramatically escalated with Iran launching ballistic missile strikes against the ISIS targets in the region. Iran’s Iran Revolutionary Guards fired several missiles at ISIL positions in the Deir Az Zor province, Syria. Experts have noted that this is the first time Iran has fired ballistic missiles in decades, making this a significant development in the region.

One the same day, a US navy fighterjet shot down a Syrian warplane making it the first time US military shot down a Syrian aircraft since 2014.

Iran’s attack, a revenge?

Earlier in June, ISIL claimed responsibility for two deadly attacks that took place in Tehran that had claimed the lives of many. Suicide bomber and gunmen had attacked the Parliament and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini simultaneously injuring over 43 and killing 13 people.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a statement that was published just hours before the attack had vowed to honour the victims of the attack and that Iran would “slap its enemies.” The Iranian Guard presently claims that it was able to kill a large number of terrorists and take out a significant number of weapons as well. But the extent of the damage inflicted is yet to be determined. This marks it the first time in 30 years when Iran has fired missiles outside of its territory.  

Even in context of the Syrian crisis, this is the first time Iran has targeted the country. Earlier, it has lent its support to fight ISIS forces through by providing fighters, volunteers, money, weapons etc.

This also puts Iran at further odds with the United States as it supports Syrian President Bashar Assad and the US has now taken a more proactive role fighting Assad’s forces.

The US strike

The US military in a statement after shooting down the Syrian aircraft said that it had acted in “accordance with rules of engagement & collective self-defense.”  According to the US-led coalition headquartered in Iraq, the attack on the Syrian aircraft took place as retaliation to the Syrian regime dropping bombs in a region occupied by US partner forces called as the Syrian Democratic Forces. 

The latest development shows an increased engagement from the US military forces against the Syrian regime. In May 2017, the forces of a US-led coalition struck Syrian forces within Syria.

Analysis

Russia is one of the biggest champions and backer for the Assad-led Syrian regime and any warfare with the Syrian government will put the United States in direct conflict with Russian forces. A number of Russian media agencies have already quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticising the actions of the US. He is reported to have asked the US to respect the region’s territorial integrity.

More direct military involvement from the US will also put it in more direct conflict with Iran, which also complicates matter as both regions have become reluctant partners in fighting ISIL forces.

Assessment

As conflict continues to build in the region and as more countries enter the arena, the death toll Syria will continue to rise. This could also lead to an all-out war between a number of countries with substantial stake in Syria including Iran, US and even Russia.

As conditions for living in the country deteriorate, more citizens will flee the region and it will further add to the refugee crisis across the world. 

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