Published: Wed, June 21, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Iran launches missiles into Syria in revenge for attacks

Sunday's shoot-down of a hostile aircraft was the first by US planes in this conflict.

Sunday's missile strike came amid recent confrontations in Syria between us -backed forces and pro-government factions.

Emboldened Sunni Arab states backed by Trump have hardened their stance against Iran.

The tensions reflect mounting competition for areas of Syria where Islamic State (IS) insurgents are in retreat, leaving swathes of territory up for grabs and posing the question of what comes next for USA policy that is shaped first and foremost by the priority of vanquishing the jihadists.

Furthermore, as far as the use of long range missiles in the Syrian Civil War is concerned, both the United States and Russian Federation have conducted cruise missile strikes against targets in Syria.

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Yezid Sayigh, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said the sides were establishing red lines in a fluid situation, and the Syrian government was "always testing and pushing the boundaries". The review resulted in an "annihilation campaign" aimed at killing all IS fighters, and saw commanders gain greater autonomy to make battlefield decisions and approve strikes. "This is purely a series of tactical decisions that are creating a series of very serious strategic consequences".

Russia, which is flying its own air war in Syria to prop up President Bashar al-Assad, condemned the incident and said it had shut off a special "deconfliction" hotline with the U.S. military, though top officer General Joe Dunford later said the United States was seeking to re-establish the channel.

The larger problem, the officials and analysts said, is that Trump and his national security team have not advanced a long-term political strategy for Syria's future.

A Syrian military official in Damascus said the truce was not extended. "We remain available on our end. Our most capable allies are the (Kurdish) peshmerga, but Turkey, who is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and host to an airbase that is central to our efforts, considers the Kurds enemies".

Boroujerdi said the strike marked "a new phase in the fight against terrorism".

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A White House spokesman did not respond to calls and an email seeking comment. In the aftermath of the incident, Moscow says it will now "target" US-led coalition aircraft flying above Syria. "We're not close to that, but that's the strategy".

Iraqi lawmaker Abdul-Bari Zebari said his country agreed to the missile overflight after coordination with Iran, Russia and Syria. It stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.

Robert Ford, who served as the US's envoy to Syria under former USA president Barack Obama, made the remarks in an interview with the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday.

The launch, which hit Syria's eastern city of Deir el-Zour on Sunday night, appeared to be Iran's first missile attack overseas in over 15 years and its first in the Syrian civil war, in which it has provided crucial support to embattled President Bashar Assad. The attack last week, which included shootings and at least one suicide bombing, was on Iran's parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.

Syrian opposition activist Omar Abu Laila, who is based in Germany but closely follows events in his native Deir el-Zour, said two Iranian missiles fell near and inside the eastern town of Mayadeen, an Islamic State stronghold.

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The U.S. launched 59 missiles at the Shayrat air base in early April in response to a chemical attack that was blamed on the Syrian government and Assad.

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