The Israelis have to stop staging provocations in Syria and they can ditch the yammer about Hezbollah's tunnels. If the IDF is so upset about the tunnels, take their army and invade Lebanon, but stop trying to drag the United States into a war against Lebanon -- or Iran, for that matter. Fight your own battles and keep Americans out of it -- all of it.
Anyhow, the U.S. defense department and probably Pesident Trump as well is ticked off about the Israeli's Christmas stunt, so they spilled the beans, which DEBKAfile duly reported this morning:
US military sources disclose that the Israeli air offensive on Tuesday night, Dec. 25, was conducted by IAF F-16I fighter jets firing Delilah cruise missiles from Lebanese air space into Syria. Damascus is said to have countered the attack with Russian Pantsir-S2 and S-200 SAM air defense weapons.
These highly credible sources also disclose that the Israeli attack was aimed at Syrian military sites – not Iranian and Hizballah targets as earlier reported in Israel and Damascus.
The Israeli government and military chiefs had apparently decided, say the US sources, to take advantage of the chaos generated by President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria and Ankara’s threat of a Turkish army thrust across the Euphrates. Their purpose was to disable Syrian military sites where Iranian and Hizballah combat assets were quartered.
After the F-16 jets failed to connect to their targets, the IDF sent the F-35 stealth planes over in a second wave.
The report continues in great detail but doesn't mention that Netanyahu is very upset that Trump shut him out of discussions about a vaunted drawndown of American troops in Syria prior to announcing the decision. The only national leaders he discussed it with prior to the announcement were Putin and Erdogan, although he gave Netanyahu a five minute head's up about his decision before tweeting his announcement.
After the announcement, all other relevant leaders were quickly contacted by the U.S. This was followed by a detailed explanation that the U.S. that would still maintain a presence in Syria after the alleged drawdown. DEBKAfile duly reported on this also. Here is their report, datelined December 22 12:10: The US will still “maintain a presence” after troop pullout from NE Syria:
Following the backlash from President Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from NE Syria, senior administration officials Friday night, Dec. 21 offered Mid East leaders clarifications for allaying their concerns. DEBKAfile’s sources reveal those messages’ high points:
[END REPORT]As to whether the U.S. really intends to withdraw 2,000 U.S.troops: the U.S. has many more than that number in Syria; the unofficial count is roughly 4,000. Tthe Israelis know this, as does everyone who reads the Washington Post. From Liz Sly's December 14 report for the Post, America's Hidden War in Syria;
... In September, however, the administration switched course, saying the troops will stay in Syria pending an overall settlement to the Syrian war and with a new mission: to act as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.
That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.
The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000.
Most are Special Operations forces, and their footprint is light. Their vehicles and convoys rumble by from time to time along the empty desert roads, but it is rare to see U.S. soldiers in towns and cities.
[...]So even if the U.S. withdraws 2,000 troops (or 2,600 according to one news report), this still leaves a a sizeable contingent in Syria. Which, again, the Israelis know.
[shaking her head] Kindergartners with missiles.