A UN envoy has said the Israel-Hamas war is spreading to Syria, raising alarm for the already unstable country. Geir Pedersen told the UN Security Council that Syrian people face “a terrifying prospect of a potential wider escalation.”
Mr. Pedersen pointed to airstrikes, reportedly launched by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), targeting military positions inside the Syrian border. Associated Press claims Israel has “carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of war-torn Syria in recent years” but does not address these publicly.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said terrorist groups in the region, backed by Iran and Syria, are at risk of expanding the Gaza conflict “by using Syrian territory to plot and launch attacks against Israel.” She called on Syrian authorities to prevent activities by Iran-supported militias inside its territory and to “stop the flow of foreign arms and fighters.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who invaded neighboring Ukraine last year and is involved in heavy conflict there, said he has called on world leaders to call a halt to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, or it risks spreading “far beyond the borders of the Middle East.”
Putin blamed the West for provoking escalation in a bid to inflame tensions and “launch a real wave of chaos.” Russian forces fought alongside Iranian revolutionary guards and Hezbollah militants in Syria.
Some analysts speculate that the United States could be dragged into active military conflict in the region, particularly given its recent exchange of fire with Iran. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed in October that American forces struck two facilities linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps inside Syria. The White House said the strikes were launched in retaliation for rocket and drone attacks against US forces in the area.
President Biden said he “directed the strikes in order to protect and defend” US personnel and “to degrade and disrupt” an ongoing series of attacks against America and its partners.