09:59 GMT26 October 2020
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    Tensions between Tehran and Tel Aviv took a turn for the worse this week, with Israel vowing to continue its attacks against the alleged Iranian presence in Syria. Meanwhile, a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander has warned that Israel would be destroyed by Hezbollah and its government would be forced to "flee into the sea."

    Russia made an effort to open channels of communication between Israel and Iran in a bid to reduce tensions, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat has reported, citing a senior Russian source.

    Moscow's efforts, said to have been made in the wake of the delivery of its S-300 missile systems to Syria, were described as an attempt to "reduce tensions and prevent friction" between Tehran and Tel Aviv over conflicting interests in the Arab Republic.

    Russian, Iranian and Israeli officials have made no official comment regarding the authenticity of the report.

    This week, Washington urged Tehran to make use of the Russia-US deconfliction hotline to warn the US of any air or missile strikes in Syria following Iran's Monday attack against Daesh (ISIS)* forces just a few kilometers from a US military base, which came without prior warning.

    Iranian-Israeli tensions reached a boiling point in recent months over the conflict in Syria. Last month, a senior Israeli military official admitted that Israel had struck over 200 targets in the war-torn country over the past year and a half. Israel justified these attacks by claiming that they have been focusing on eliminating a suspected Iranian military presence.

    Tehran and Damascus have rejected such charges, and said that although Iran has military advisers assisting Syria in its fight against Islamist extremists, no regular forces are present. Moreover, Damascus has repeatedly pointed out that assistance from Iran and the Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah has been approved by Syria's internationally recognized government.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again rejected Syria and Iran's arguments this week, vowing Thursday that Israel would "continue doing what it takes to defend itself" and "continue blocking Iran's attempts to use Syria and Lebanon as its forward bases to launch attacks on Israel."

    Also this week, the Russian military confirmed that it had completed the delivery of several S-300 air defense installations to Syria. On Wednesday, Israeli military officials signaled that Tel Aviv was "unhappy" with the delivery of the S-300 systems to Syria, but added that the Israeli Air Force would not stop its operations in the country.

    The Israeli military continues to hold Syria responsible for the destruction of a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft which was accidentally shot down with 15 servicemen on board by Syrian air defenses during an Israeli air raid on September 17. The Russian defense ministry has accused the Israeli Air Force of deliberately using the Russian plane as a shield, and of providing insufficient warning for the aircraft to make it out of harm's way. Russia has taken a number of steps in response to the incident, including the delivery of the S-300s, the provision of its advanced friend/foe identification systems to the Syrian military, and providing Syria with radio-electronic suppression of satellite navigation, airborne radars and combat communications systems of any aircraft attempting to attack Syrian targets. Israel has not carried out any additional attacks on targets in Syria since September 17.


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