A senior Iranian defense official boasted Saturday that Iran has achieved the vast majority of its objectives in Syria since the start of that country’s civil war, and dismissed the efficacy of Israeli efforts to counter the Islamic Republic’s military presence there.
“We have accomplished more than 90 percent of our objectives. Thus, the Israeli punitive strikes [on Syria] have had no strategic impact and the resistance has pressed ahead with its activities,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, told the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
He did not define what those objectives were.
Israel in recent years has carried out hundreds of airstrikes on targets linked to Iran in Syria, where along with its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, and Russia, the Islamic republic is fighting to shore up the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Israeli officials have said Iran is working to establish a military presence in Syria that could be used to threaten the Jewish state, as well as using the country to transfer advanced weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Shamkhani accused Israel of having “crossed the red line” by striking Iranian assets in Syria and bragged about the “heavy blow” his country dealt in response to an Israeli strike on an airbase there linked to Iran.
He appeared to be referring to an Iranian missile salvo fired at the Golan Heights last May following Israeli airstrikes on the T-4 air field. The Israeli military that four of the 32 rockets fired were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, while the rest landed in Syrian territory.
“We have made arrangements to protect our red line in the area of human casualties caused by any act of aggression and invasion,” Shamkhani said. “We will soon witness a major upheaval in upgrading the deterrent power of resistance in Syria.”
He hinted that Iran and its allies would respond more forcefully to Israeli strikes while saying he did not believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking a military confrontation with Iranian forces in Syria, in light of upcoming Knesset elections.
“If Netanyahu gets entangled in several fronts simultaneously, he will definitely end his shaky political life in the run-up to the elections. I don’t think that he [Netanyahu] would be so silly,” Shamkhani said.
Meanwhile in an interview published Friday with the Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he did not believe a war between the countries was likely but accused Israel of “adventurism” and said Iran was prepared for the possibility.
Echoing Shamkhani, Zarif also defended Iran’s presence in Syria and stressed that it was there at Assad’s invitation.
Earlier this week, Zarif accused Israel of “looking for war” and claimed it was violating international law by carrying out bombing raids in Syria