Israel says it will keep hitting Iran, as Tehran says it’s staying in Syria
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Israel says it will keep hitting Iran, as Tehran says it’s staying in Syria

Senior diplomatic source says Netanyahu believes pushing Islamic Republic forces out of neighboring country as important as canceling nuclear deal

Syrian anti-aircraft missiles rise into the sky as Israeli missiles hit air defense positions and other military bases, in Damascus, Syria, on May 10, 2018. (Government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)
Syrian anti-aircraft missiles rise into the sky as Israeli missiles hit air defense positions and other military bases, in Damascus, Syria, on May 10, 2018. (Government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)

Israel’s military will continue to target Iranian weapons and troops in Syria, a senior diplomatic source said Tuesday, as Iran signaled it would resist attempts to push its forces out of the country.

The army will continue to act with “full determination” against Iranian attempts to get troops and weaponry onto Syrian ground, the source told several Hebrew-language media outlets.

The diplomat added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regards preventing Iranian troops from gaining a foothold in Syria as no less important than getting the Iran nuclear deal canceled.

Russia, seen as the key to getting Iran to leave Syria as the civil war there draws to a close, has said it cannot force the Islamic Republic to retreat, and analysts say the goal is all but impossible.

However, the Israeli source noted that the Iran nuclear deal was also seen as impossible to fight, but is now teetering thanks to the US withdrawal from the deal. The diplomat indicated Jerusalem would continue to lobby Russia and the US to put pressure on Iran, and said the reimposition of US sanctions on Tehran was “taking its toll.”

The US has said getting Iran to end its military adventurism in Syria and elsewhere is one of the goals of increased financial pressure on Tehran.

On Monday, though, Iran and Syria signed an agreement on military cooperation and reconstruction in the war-torn country, with Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami vowing to take an active role in the reconstruction of the country’s decimated forces.

The “defense and technical agreement” provides for the continued “presence and participation” of Iran in Syria, Hatami said.

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows Syrian president Bashar Assad, right, meeting with Iran’s Defense minister Amir Hatami, in Damascus, Syria, on August 26, 2018. (SANA via AP)

In an interview Monday night with the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen television channel, Hatami said the agreement included the rehabilitation of Syria’s defense industry and assured Iran would provide “good service.”

“With this accord, we have paved the way for a reconstruction of the Syrian military industries,” he said, continuing, “Based on what I know about the Iranian capability, I think that Netanyahu’s threats to attack are far from reality.”

“The most important element of the deal is the rebuilding of the Syrian armed forces and defense industries so that they can regain their full capacity.”

Tehran has provided steady political, financial, and military backing to Assad as he has fought back a seven-year uprising.

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