Sources: Assad Unlikely to Respond to Shooting Down of Syrian Plane

YERUSHALAYIM -
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (SANA/Handout via Reuters)

Israeli security officials do not expect Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to take action against Israel’s shooting down of a Syrian plane on Tuesday. Channel Ten quoted the sources as saying that he would rather wrap up his battle in southern Syria, rather than overreact, and generate a further Israeli response.

Assad, the sources said, feels he is close to victory over the rebel groups, whose last stronghold has been southern Syria. With a few more weeks, or at most months, of fighting, Assad believes he will be able to declare total victory over the rebels. That, they said, is more important than responding to the incident Tuesday, in which a Syrian pilot was said to have been killed.

With that, Damascus intends to use the incident for its public relations to as great an extent as possible, the report quoted the sources as saying. Assad intends to use the incident to emphasize Israel’s support for “terror groups,” as he terms the rebels. That claim may come in handy for later demands by Syria that the international community pressure Israel to give up, or at least pull back, on the Golan Heights.

A Syrian source was quoted in the Lebanese A-Nashra newspaper Tuesday as saying that “we will not be dragged into a war with the Israeli enemy, who is trying to stop our military efforts against the rebel terrorists. We will get to the response at the appropriate time, and in due time. We will also fight against all efforts against our allies,” the source said, referring to Iran’s military assistance to Syria.