ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly threatened to act in Syria if the Arab country allows Iran to establish military bases there.
In a recent letter to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Netanyahu urged his counterpart not to allow Iran to establish a military base in Syria, citing security reasons, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
The letter arrived before Saturday, when a strike on Damascus was reported, allegedly carried out by Israel, WSJ said.
Iran has been one of the Syrian leader’s main allies during the civil war that started in 2011 and has drawn dozens of countries involved.
The alleged attack and recent letter could suggest that Israel may no longer stand by and watch as various countries battle for influence in Syria.
This is not the first time Israel has warned it would not allow its main enemy, Iran, to “entrench itself militarily” in Syria.
Syrian state media reported that the Arab Republic’s Air Force had repelled an Israeli attack on a “military position” near Damascus, but Syrian or Israeli officials have not reported on the strike yet.
Iran has denied the presence of any bases in Syria, but a top US security official said on Monday that most of Syrian President Assad’s forces currently engaged against “terrorist groups” in the war-ridden country are Iranian proxies.
Gen. H.R. McMaster, National Security Adviser to US President Donald Trump, spoke at a panel at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in Southern California alongside CIA director Mike Pompeo.
“What the Iranians have done across the Middle East is fuel and accelerate cycles of violence so that they can take advantage of chaos and weak states to make them dependent on Iran for support,” McMaster said.
He added that Tehran was using a campaign of subversion in Iraq, providing direct support to the Syrian regime.
“About 80 percent of Assad fighters are Iranian proxies in Syria to establish a land bridge over into the Mediterranean,” he said.
Netanyahu has also stated, in a video message posted on his Facebook page, that Israel would not allow Iran to have a military presence in Syria or its own nuclear weapons.
Syria is among many other Arab countries that have not recognized the nation of Israel since its establishment in 1948.
Also, the disputed Golan Heights region has been a major cause of conflict between Israel and Syria.
Israel occupied the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War with Syria, with the international community refusing to recognize Israel’s annexation of the territory.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany