IDF chief of staff: ‘Don’t exaggerate US troop pullout’

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria shouldn’t be exaggerated.

By World Israel News Staff

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria was “a significant event, but it should not be exaggerated,” Ynet news reports.

“For decades we have been dealing with this front alone, and the IDF has acted independently in this area,” Eizenkot said. “We are working in the interests of the State of Israel, and the decision [by the U.S. to pull its troops] was made when the relationship between the IDF and the U.S. army are at their height.”

Stopping Iran

“The IDF’s main effort over the last four years has been to combat Iran’s aspirations to export its capabilities from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon,” Eizenkot said, Israel Hayom reports.

“This was a threat that remained hidden from the public eye in Israel, but as a military, we invested enormous intelligence, aerial and covert resources into this endeavor,” he said. “We succeeded in preventing Iran from realizing its vision as planned, but the desire and aspirations remain.”

Iran envisioned a force of 100,000 troops in Syria, a tightly combined land, sea and intelligence abilities and a line of outposts on the Golan Heights.

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Hezbollah threat

A few years ago, Israel became aware of Iranian attempts to smuggle technology to Hezbollah to enable the terror group to build precision-guided missiles, Eizenkot said. “We’ve conducted many strikes in order to prevent the smuggling of advanced weapons to Lebanon.”

The chief of staff said the Israeli public wouldn’t have even been aware of the “enormous resources” Israel put into stopping these advanced weapons if it hasn’t been for the downing of the Russian plane, which threw a spotlight on Israel’s activities.

Eizenkot noted that the Russian presence beginning in 2015 created a “new situation, necessitating us to engage in dialogue, to build a mechanism for preventing friction.”

Eizenkot made his comments at the “IDF and Israeli Society” conference held on Monday at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, a not-for-profit, research college. The event was in memory of the late IDF chief Lt. Gen. Amnon Lipkin Shahak.