Israel's concern with Iranian encroachment in Syria continues to grow, with the Islamic Republic striving for arms factories there, as well as naval and air bases. The Times of Israel reports that PM Netanyahu conveyed a stark warning to the Syrian president, not to allow Iran to set up such bases in his country:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that Israel will intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war if Assad gives formal permission to Iran to establish a military presence in Syria, Israeli TV reported on Sunday night.
Netanyahu conveyed the message to Assad via a third party, Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2) veteran Middle East analyst Ehud Yaari reported.
The warning specified that Israel will depart from the policy of non-intervention it has maintained throughout the six years of the civil war to date, Yaari said, if Assad “invites Iranian forces to establish themselves in Syria via an agreement of any kind.” Iran has provided significant logistical, technical, training and financial support for Assad’s regime and forces, as well as deploying military advisers and some combat troops in Syria. It also arms, trains and funds Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group that has sent thousands of gunmen to fight alongside Assad’s troops.
Thus far, Israel has provided medical and humanitarian aid to victims of the war across its border, has hit back when gunfire has crossed the border, and has used air strikes to target weapons stores and convoys intended for the Hezbollah terrorist organization. But, to date, “there was no direct targeting of the Syrian Army or of Assad,” Yaari noted.
The report noted tellingly that this non-intervention contrasted with previous Israeli policy. In 2006, for instance, Israeli jets broke the sound barrier flying over Assad’s presidential palace in Latakia, in what was seen as a warning to him against supporting Palestinian terrorist groups.
The reference to any formal Syrian “invitation” or “agreement” with Iran, the TV report elaborated, stems from the fact that Iran and Russia have been discussing future arrangements for Syria, under which all foreign forces would have to leave the country, except those which are present by agreement with, or invitation from, Assad...