Assad is under pressure to retaliate against Israel. According to Israel’s Channel 2 Middle East expert Ehud Yaari, for the first time in recent Syrian history, Syrians are coming on Television and are asking their government to attack Israel on the Golan. According to Yaari this is unprecedented as the Assad family tried to suppress such calls for many years as it did not want to embroil itself in a war against Israel. The fact that such calls are being made publicly now could mean that Assad is preparing his retaliation.
What Assad has to take into consideration is that by attacking Israel, he will risk the stability of his regime.
In the event of a Syrian attack against Israel, should the situation escalate, its possible that the Israeli air force will target his air force. All of his air force, including his helicopters.
Should that happen, it will be much easier for the US and its allies to deploy a no fly zone over Syria to prevent the humanitarian disaster there from worsening, and to weaken Assad.
Losing his aerial superiority will bode very badly for Assad and his forced as this has given them much advantage until now. The loss of his air force could embolden the opposition forces to move against him with more motivation and energy thus speeding up his downfall.
This does not mean that Assad will not retaliate. He is under pressure at home. It also seems that he is being encouraged by Iranian officials. The commander of the IRGC Mohammad Ali Jaafari stated after Israel’s attack that “The Zionist regime (of Israel) can only be dealt with through resistance and retaliation”.
Basher Al Assad has to be very careful about his decision to retaliate against Israel. Perhaps more than ever as he risks losing his air force, and this is something that Iran, and quite possibly not even the Russians could help him replace. Without his air force, the number of Assad’s days in power could be halved, at least.