The U.S. has for years given advance approval to Israeli airstrikes targeted at Iranian-backed forces in Syria, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Israel secretly coordinates with the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command to determine the vast majority of target locations in Syria to avoid interfering with U.S. counter-ISIS effort, the WSJ reported, citing current and former officials.
The U.S. does not collaborate with Israel to identify targets or require prescreening all Israeli operations in the Syrian front, according to the WSJ.
Israel has long carried out airstrikes against what it claims are Iran-backed militias in Syria, while not always publicly taking responsibility.
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“There has also been a consistent hesitancy about wanting any fingerprints on this,” Dennis Ross, a former U.S. envoy in the Middle East and counselor at a Washington think tank that covers Middle East policy, told the WSJ, referring to tacit American support for actions taken by Israel to contain Iran in the region.
At the same time, the U.S. conducts ground-based operations against ISIS, a designated terrorist group that seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in the region but is not affiliated with Iran.
“In northeast Syria and in the vicinity of al-Tanf, the U.S. mission is solely securing the enduring defeat of ISIS, working with our local partners,” a U.S. defense official told the WSJ. “We won’t discuss the details of the steps we take to reduce the risk to our forces and to the mission.”
He explained that U.S. approval was necessary to reduce risk to U.S. and Israeli troops.
“It would be irresponsible if there was not deconfliction and coordination because of the risk that we could have an inadvertent problem,” the official said.
The U.S. apparently exerts pressure on Israel in the West Bank and Gaza as well; the Biden administration asked Israel to avoid incendiary activity in Palestine ahead of President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Israel and the West Bank, Axios reported Wednesday, citing unnamed U.S., Israeli and Palestinian officials.
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The Department of Defense, CENTCOM, the Israel Ministry of Defense and Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.