Former Israel air force chief: ‘Only Russia can get Iran out of Syria’

Amir Eshel says that the Russians are the key to forcing Iran out of Syria but indicates that Moscow cannot be trusted.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Former Israel Air Force commander Maj-Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel said on Monday that despite Israel’s great military strength, “it’s not a military capability that is going to get the Iranians out of Syria.”

Eshel maintained that “only a diplomatic effort can get Iran out of Syria, and this diplomatic effort has just one address. It’s called Russia. The only one who can get Iran out of Syria is Russia.”

However, he warned that “there’s a very great chance that the Russians will do an about-face on us.”

On Saturday, Israeli cabinet minister and former IDF commander Yoav Galant said that Israel had a plan to get Iran out of Syria and that Russia would now back it because Moscow no longer needed Iran and Hezbollah in the country following the defeat of rebels in Syria.

Eshel, who served as the air force chief 2012-2017, spoke as a member of a panel at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv.

President Reuven Rivlin, who also spoke at the INSS event on Monday, warned that Iran was likely to “intensify its responses” to Israel’s strikes against its forces in Syria.

Eshel did not think that war was imminent but warned that “we must not delude ourselves” because an all-out battle could develop.

He referred to the recent firing of an Iranian missile into Israel on the Golan Heights as an indication of how the Iranians are willing to escalate the violence to resist efforts to expel it from Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said last week that at least 12 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were killed, along with six Syrian soldiers and militia fighters and three foreigners, in an Israeli strike on Syria that followed the firing of the Iranian missile into the Golan.

Amid the tensions across the Israeli-Syrian border, Russia’s special representative for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin were scheduled to meet with Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday, continuing a visit to Israel after holding talks on Monday with senior officials at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Last week, Russia accused Israel of carrying out arbitrary attacks on Syria.