Friday, March 13, 2015

Al Qaeda a Lesser Evil? Syria War Pulls U.S., Israel Apart

Mountaintop on edge of Golan Heights illustrates complexities

By Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ
Updated March 12, 2015 12:47 p.m. ET

MOUNT BENTAL, Golan Heights—This mountaintop on the edge of the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights offers a unique vantage point into how the complexities of the Syrian war raging in the plains below are increasingly straining Israel’s ties with the U.S.

To the south of this overlook, from which United Nations and Israeli officers observe the fighting, are the positions of the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al Qaeda that the U.S. has targeted with airstrikes.

Nusra Front, however, hasn’t bothered Israel since seizing the border area last summer—and some of its severely wounded fighters are regularly taken across the frontier fence to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals.

To the north of Mount Bental are the positions of the Syrian government forces and the pro-Iranian Shiite militias such as Hezbollah, along with Iranian advisers. Iran and these militias are indirectly allied with Washington in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq. But here in the Golan, they have been the target of a recent Israeli airstrike. Israel in recent months also shot down a Syrian warplane and attacked weapons convoys heading through Syria to Hezbollah.

(More here.)

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