Israel, Iran engage in most serious confrontation in Syria

US Iran

GETTY The US have put on a brutal display of force in Turkey

In February, Israel shot down what it said was a drone that contained explosives sent by Iran from an air base in Syria, prompting Israeli airstrikes that killed at least seven Iranians.

Here is a look at why the two countries are at each other's throats and why Syria could be the ground for a showdown.

But 54 percent of respondents said they feared a direct military confrontation with Iran was looming and agreed with officials who said that it would be better "to have the fight now and not at a later stage", the paper said.

The scope of the attacks - which Israel called its largest in Syria since the 1973 Mideast war - raised the specter of a full-fledged war between Iran and Israel in Syria, a conflict that could potentially drag Hezbollah and Lebanon into the mix with devastating effects, although both sides appeared to signal they wanted the confrontation to remain contained, at least for now.

Israel's main concern is southern Syria, near the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, where Tehran has been boosting its presence for years and where it could launch rocket attacks into Israeli territory.

"We can not be arrogant", Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said during Friday's visit in Golan Heights.

US President Donald Trump's abandonment on Tuesday of a landmark worldwide deal to curb Iran's nuclear programme - an agreement fiercely opposed by Mr Netanyahu - has certainly raised tensions.

Israel's military had been anticipating an attack by Iranian forces after reportedly carrying out a number of strikes on their facilities in Syria in recent months.

Israel has acknowledged carrying out over 100 air strikes in Syria since the civil war erupted in 2011.

In a lengthy government statement on Friday, the Iranian government warned that it would take "whatever reciprocal measures it deems expedient" if it is not fully compensated for the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement as provided for in the accord.

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Germany, France and Britain have vowed to keep the 2015 nuclear agreement alive following the US decision to walk away. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says European companies should not have to pay for the United States decision.

The White House has condemned Iran's rocket attacks on Israeli citizens as "unacceptable and highly dangerous".

Russian Federation - which is alone in having close relations with both Iran and Israel - has sought to position itself as a mediator to prevent further escalation.

With the war winding down and the group able to refocus on its longtime foe, Israel, the border between the two countries may again heat up.

Russian Federation which is alone in having shut relations with each Iran and Israel has sought to place itself as a mediator to forestall additional escalation.

Imad Moustapha told Russia's Sputnik news agency on Friday that Syria would shoot down missiles fired by Tel Aviv and target the regime's warplanes that violate the Syrian airspace.

With the capture of the three suburbs, the only area outside government control in Damascus is that of the neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad and the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk that are partially controlled by the Islamic State group.

He did not refer to Iran's military presence inside Syria.

Israel has grim experience in the past of becoming engaged in an unwinnable war in Lebanon between 1982 and 2000 and, since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been suffering a similar failure in Yemen.

Yemen's Shia rebels, the Houthis, have fired a series of missiles into neighbouring Saudi Arabia during the three-year-old conflict, most recently on Thursday, a day after Trump's announcement. In Iraq, Iran sponsors a range of Shiite militias and has close ties to the political leadership.

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