Iran says it cannot rule out possibility of war with Israel
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Iran says it cannot rule out possibility of war with Israel

Foreign minister Zarif accuses Jerusalem of ‘adventurism’ with its campaign of airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, and cautions situation could deteriorate

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Iran’s foreign minister accused Israel of “adventurism” with its campaign of airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, and said he could not rule out the possibility that they could lead to a war between the Mideast arch-foes.

Speaking to the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Mohammad Javad Zarif said Israel constantly violated Syrian and Lebanese sovereignty, while Iran was in Syria at the invitation of the Assad government.

Israel has carried out dozens of airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria in a bid to prevent Iran from entrenching itself in the country and transferring advanced weapons to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

Zarif said the Israeli strikes could lead to war.

“There is adventurism on Israel’s side, and adventurism is always dangerous,” Zarif told the newspaper in an interview to be published on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Asked if he saw an emerging military conflict between Iran and Israel, Zarif said, “I do not, but we cannot exclude the possibility.”

On Sunday, Zarif had warned that Jerusalem is “looking for war” and that the behavior of Israel and the United States was increasing the prospects of a conflict.

“Certainly, some people are looking for war… Israel,”  Zarif told participants at the Munich Security Conference, according to the Reuters news agency.

Zarif said that Israel was violating international law by carrying out bombing raids in Syria, and called on European powers and the US to hold Israel to account for its actions.

“The risk [of war] is great. The risk will be even greater if you continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law.

“Israeli behavior is putting international law on the shelf, US behavior is putting international law on the shelf,” he said.

The Iranian regime views Israel and the US as its political and spiritual arch-enemies, and its leaders regularly vow to destroy the Jewish state.

Israel in recent years has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against targets linked to Iran, which alongside its proxies and Russia is fighting on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Until recently, Israel typically refrained from commenting on its military activities against Iran in Syria, neither confirming nor denying strikes.

Over the past two months, however, that policy of ambiguity has been largely abandoned by Israeli military and political officials, who have begun more openly discussing the Israel Defense Forces’ operations in Syria.

An explosion, reportedly during Israeli airstrikes near Damascus, Syria, on January 21, 2019. (screen capture: YouTube)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under fire for breaking Israel’s ambiguity policy regarding attacks in Syria, with critics accusing him of putting Israel’s security at risk to gain points among voters.

Zarif’s words regarding the increasing likelihood of all-out military conflict with Israel comes days after Netanyahu spoke of a joint interest in “war” in the context of the struggle against the Islamic Republic.

In a Hebrew-language video message recorded before he headed last Wednesday to the opening of a Middle East conference in Warsaw, the prime minister hailed the fact that an Israeli leader was about to sit down with senior officials from “leading Arab countries” in order to “advance the common interest of war against Iran.”

An official translation of the statement, provided by the Government Press Office, translated Hebrew phrase milhama b’Iran as “war with Iran,” when it was not clear that Netanyahu had meant literal military action.

The prime minister’s social media accounts published the statement, leading numerous people, including Zarif, to point out its ostensible belligerency.

About one hour after the PM’s post went live, as Netanyahu was already sitting at a reception at Warsaw’s historic Royal Castle, his staff deleted the first tweet and replaced it with a softened version, reading: “What is important about this meeting — and it is not in secret, because there are many of those — is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of combating Iran.”

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