A top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened Israel Tuesday over a deadly airstrike in Syria attributed to the Israeli military.
“The crimes will not remain unanswered,” Ali Akbar Velayati said during a visit to Syria, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
Earlier in the day, Iranian media reported that seven members of the country’s military were killed in the strike, out of at least 14 reported fatalities.
One was named as a colonel in the air force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The target of the reported airstrike was the Tiyas air base — also known as the T-4 air base — outside Palmyra in central Syria.
Israel has previously carried out at least one explicitly acknowledged attack on the base, which it said was home to an Iranian drone program.
Israel has refused to comment on the attack, for which it has also been blamed by Russia and Syria. NBC News quoted two US officials as saying that Israel carried out the strike, adding that Washington was informed in advance.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel will hit anyone who intends to harm the country.
“We have one clear and simple rule and we seek to express it constantly: if someone tries to attack you – rise up and attack him. We will not allow, here on the Gaza border, them to hurt us. We will hurt them,” he said in a speech in the Gaza border town of Sderot. “Security in the present is a necessary condition for security in the future and what we have here today is a powerful expression for our future security,” Netanyahu said, apparently referring to the dual threats Israel faces in the north and in the south.
Separately, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed the alleged Israeli strike was carried out to overshadow gains made by Iranian-backed Syrian forces in the Damascus suburbs against rebels opposing President Bashar Assad.
“The Zionist regime and the US have in different stages rushed to the scene to boost the morale of terrorists,” he said, according to Iran’s Press TV.
“Whenever the terrorists face defeats, the Zionist regime launches operations and so do the Americans,” Zarif added.
Repeating earlier Iranian claims, he said that the US and Israel were assisting Islamic State jihadists, including by helping them relocate from areas where they were defeated.
He also said the US was “seeking a pretext for intervention” in Syria, in reference to the alleged chemical attack in Douma over the weekend that killed dozens.
Syria and its allies have denied using chemical weapons in the attack, over which US President Donald Trump has threatened to retaliate.