Washington is facing growing pressure to punish the Syrian regime for last week’s chemical massacre on the outskirts of Damascus, and the US, now sensing it has no option but to act, is likely planning its military strike.
Any US military step will probably serve as a “slap” to the Syrian regime, but won’t go as far as toppling President Bashar Assad from power.
Hence, it would be an act of self-destruction on Assad’s part to drag Israel into the conflict, for any direct Syrian retribution against Israel would endanger the very existence of the embattled regime in Damascus.
With Assad in control of around 40 percent of Syrian territory, dragging Israel into the Syrian civil war would tip the scales in the rebels favor, and would be an act of madness on the part of the Syrian dictator.
Nevertheless, the defense community, always aware that normal rules of logic don’t always apply in the Middle East, is quietly factoring in the possibility of retribution attacks.
The past few days have seen Iranian and Syrian officials issuing threats to “spread the fire” to Israel, and although the threats are unlikely to materialize, their words cannot be entirely dismissed.
Limited, indirect retribution attacks, through proxy terrorist organizations, also remain a possibility.
Ultimately, the last thing Assad needs at this juncture is to provoke an Israeli response against him, and so long as he is guided by a self-preservation instinct, it is reasonable to assess that he will not attack Israel after a US strike.