by Ariel Kahana
"We missed our chance to impact the situation and now we lack the necessary leverage," senior Israeli minister says.
Israel considered military intervention in the Syrian civil war before Russia stepped in to aid President Bashar Assad, senior officials admitted Wednesday.
The possibility was considered about three years ago, at the height of the conflict ravaging Israel's neighbor to the north.
The Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war began in September 2015, after an official request by Assad for military aid in his war against the rebels trying to unseat him and various jihadist groups, including al-Qaida and Islamic State.
At the time, Israel considered potential military intervention in the fighting taking place on the Syrian Golan, over the battles' proximity to the Israeli border.
At stake was the question of what would serve Israel's interest best – a weakened Assad regime or contending with Islamic State and al-Qaida's presence on the border.
According to senior officials, there were several instances during that period of the civil war when Israeli intervention could have toppled Assad, especially after it became clear that the Syrian army was using chemical weapons against its own people.
Israel Hayom learned that decision-makers swayed on the matter. A more assertive policy of intervening in the fighting taking place on the Syrian Golan could have altered Israel's regional leverage and influence over Syria in the post-war era, but on the other hand, stepping into the war spelled friction with the warring parties and the potential high cost in human lives.
Israel eventually opted to maintain its policy of nonintervention, as defense officials concluded that regardless of how the Syrian civil war ends, the war-torn country will never be the same again.
Sources privy to this decision said the possibility of an Israeli intervention in the civil war was shelved once Russia decided to send its troops to Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are scheduled to hold a summit in Tehran on Friday to discuss Syria's political future, now that Assad has regained control of much of the country.
Iran has vowed to help Syria rebuild its military, which has been significantly debilitated by the seven-year conflict.
"We missed our chance to impact the situation and now we lack the necessary leverage," a senior Israeli minister told Israel Hayom Wednesday.
He noted that while Israel can present demands to curb Syria's post-war offensive capabilities, the international players involved have no reason to consider any Israeli demand on this matter.
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