Israel’s envoy to the United Nations on Tuesday said there are currently 3,000 soldiers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Syria, and accused Tehran of seeking to turn the country “into the largest military base in the world.”
Addressing the Security Council, Danny Danon said Iran controls 82,000 fighters in Syria, including 9,000 members of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, 10,000 Shiite militiamen from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and another 60,000 Syrians.
“We are releasing this classified information because it is vital for the world to understand that if we turn a blind eye in Syria, the Iranian threat will only grow,” said Danon. “The Shi’ite crescent is on our doorstep,” he said. “Iran is ready to strike at a moment’s notice.”
The ambassador said the size of the Iranian-backed force in Syria was proof of Tehran’s intention to sow chaos in the region and threaten Israel.
“Why does Iran keep recruiting these extremists to be killed in the battlefields of Syria? Why is Iran building bases to house these fighters for the long run? The answer is clear. To further destabilize Syria and our region. To further threaten Israel, and to further terrorize the entire free world,” he said.
Israel has repeatedly warned it won’t tolerate an Iranian military presence on its northern border. Foreign media reports have attributed dozens of airstrikes on Iranian-linked targets in Syria to Israel.
Danon also took aim at the 2015 nuclear deal granting sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for limitations on its nuclear program, which Israel has said will pave the way for Iran to achieve nuclear weapons.
“Since the signing of the JCPOA in 2015, Iran has only increased its military spending,” he said, using an acronym for the deal’s official name. “In 2014, 17 percent of Iran’s government spending went to its military expenditure. This past year, in 2017, this number ballooned to 22%. That’s $23 billion spent on missiles, arms and other weapons of war.”
Danon called on the Security Council to ensure Iran’s full compliance with the UN resolution underpinning the nuclear deal. He also implored countries not to “allow Iran to continue funding worldwide terror, pursue its dangerous internal arms buildup, and grow its military presence abroad.”