Israel warned Assad that it will not tolerate an Iranian presence in Syria and will act against it if needed.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Israel has reportedly relayed a rare and sharp message to Assad’s regime in Syria, stating that it will not accept Iranian bases or forces on its border and will act against them – and against Assad himself – if need be.
According to a report by Israel’s Channel 2 news on Sunday, the message was transmitted from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu through a third party, saying that while Israel has mostly refrained from intervening in the six-year-long civil war in Syria, it will change its policy and act against Assad’s regime if it feels threatened.
Iran is actively working to establish a military presence in Syria, augmented by Shiite militias, and chiefly the Hezbollah terror group. Furthermore, Iran is reportedly working to build precision missile factories in the country as well as air and sea ports.
Iran and its proxies have been supporting the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war and have deployed a force estimated at 500 Iranian army soldiers, 5,000 Hezbollah terrorists and several thousand guerrillas from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
The Iranian army has incurred over 1,000 casualties in Syria, and the question now is whether they are preparing to remain in the long term, after President Bashar al-Assad reasserts control.
Such a military presence would open another front against Israel on its northern border and bring the Iranian threat to its doorstep.
Israel has long warned about the involvement of it archenemy Iran, and its terror proxy Hezbollah, in Syria. It has expressed concerns of a “Shiite corridor” with land links from Iran to Lebanon, providing free movement for terrorists and weapons across the region.
Netanyahu on Tuesday spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the latest developments in Syria. According to the Kremlin, Putin and Netanyahu discussed specifics related to a de-escalation zone in Syria’s south, near the border with Jordan, which Israel says endangers its security.
Israel is apprehensive of the deal because Iran is allowed to establish itself 7 km (4.5 miles) from it northern border, a distance Jerusalem insists is not satisfactory for its security needs.
In an interview with the BBC earlier this month, Netanyahu said Iran wanted to bring its air force and submarines as well as its military divisions very close to Israel.
Asked whether Israel would use military force to stop such developments, Netanyahu told the BBC: “You know, the more we’re prepared to stop it, the less likely we’ll have to resort to much greater things. There is a principle I very much adhere to, which is to nip bad things in the bud.”