There will be limits to how far Putin will press Iran, and his strategy is to find a middle ground between the conflicting interests of major players, said Andrei Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, a research group that advises the Kremlin.
The Russian leader may agree to keep letting Israel bomb Iranian convoys transporting advanced weapons to Hezbollah while allowing Iran to maintain a route for arms supplies to Hezbollah that would stretch from Iran through Syria to Lebanon, he said.
Iranians are deeply embedded in the Syrian security forces, and if they “stay in large numbers, the potential for greater conflict between Israel and Iran in Syria will remain high,” added Ford, now a senior fellow with the Middle East Institute.
Iran, some analysts said, is playing a long game. It’s sitting out the campaign in southern Syria, deeming it less risky to let Assad’s troops win back territory near the Israeli-held section of the Golan, said Omar Lamrani, senior military analyst at Stratfor, a Texas-based advisory firm.