Israel inflating Iran’s presence in Syria to cover its own failures, Tehran says
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Israel inflating Iran’s presence in Syria to cover its own failures, Tehran says

Islamic Republic says it does not have military personnel or bases on Syrian territory; blames US for regional instability

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi briefs journalists at a press conference in Tehran on August 22, 2016. (screen capture: YouTube)
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi briefs journalists at a press conference in Tehran on August 22, 2016. (screen capture: YouTube)

Israel has falsely inflated Iran’s presence in Syria to cover for its own failures in the region, a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry said on Monday.

Spokesman Bahram Qasemi said Iran did not have any military bases or military presence in Syria, and was only in the country “at the request of the Syrian government for advisory mission and fighting the terrorists,” according to a report by Iran’s official news agency, IRNA.

“The Zionist War Ministry’s comments are baseless, false, misleading, and is an attempt to justify the failures of the regime in the region,” Qasemi said.

Qasemi also blamed regional instability on the US.

“What is certain is that we are witnessing the incapacity and vertigo of the United States. They have come to Syria incorrectly and in a wrong way, and they have to go or others make them go,” Qasemi said, according to IRNA.

The comments came a day after a rare acknowledgement of Israeli involvement in Syria from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Sunday confirmed that Israel conducted an airstrike against Iranian targets in Syria over the weekend. The strike destroyed a number of weapons caches in the Damascus airport, Netanyahu said.

Satellite photos published on January 13, 2019 showing an alleged Iranian weapons depot at the Damascus International Airport in Syria (R) on January 11, and the same structure demolished on January 13 after an Israeli airstrike. (Intelli Times)

Israel typically refrains from commenting on individual airstrikes in Syria, but does generally acknowledge that it carries out raids against Iranian- and Hezbollah-linked targets in the country.

On Saturday, outgoing IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot issued a thinly veiled threat against a powerful commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who has been overseeing Tehran’s efforts to deepen its military presence in Syria, telling.

“He who acts against us puts his life in danger,” Eisenkot said in reference to Qassem Soleimani, who heads the Quds Force expeditionary unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Eisenkot told interviewers from two leading Israeli news channels that beyond the nuclear threat posed by Iran, what worried him most was the Islamic Republic’s efforts to open a new front with Israel, by entrenching itself in Syria and strengthening its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah.

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