Immigration Minister Yoav Gallant on Saturday said Israel has a plan in place to expel Iranian forces from Syria, as Bloomberg reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is urging the United States to keep American troops at a base seen as essential to countering Iran.
Gallant, a fresh addition to the ruling Likud party, did not provide further details but credited Israeli actions with preventing the emergence of an Iranian military presence in the Golan Heights.
He also said Israel and Russia were on the same page regarding Iran’s efforts in Syria.
“Israel and Russia have a shared interest to expel the Iranians from Syria,” said Gallant, who was speaking at an event in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret Zion.
Since intervening in Syria in 2015, Russia has been fighting alongside Iran and Iranian-backed proxies on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Gallant, a former top general, said as Syria and its allies have expanded the areas under regime control and inflicted defeats on rebel groups, Russia is no longer reliant on Iran and the two countries are at odds over “who will rebuild Syria.”
His comments mirrored those made Friday by the Russian deputy foreign minister, who denied Russia is allied with Iran and touted his country’s commitment to Israel’s security.
Gallant’s remarks also come as Israel has gone increasingly public regarding its military actions in Syria, where it says arch-foe Iran is working to establish a new front that could threaten the Jewish state.
Earlier this week, the Israeli Air Force launched a series of strikes on Iranian targets in Syria, after Iran fired a surface-to-surface missile at the Golan Heights in response to a rare daylight attack attributed to Israel.
The growing acknowledgement by Israeli leaders of military actions against Iran has come on the heels of US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria, sparking concerns in Israel of a resurgent Iranian presence there.
According to a Bloomberg report, Netanyahu has urged Trump to keep a contingent of American soldiers at the Al-Tanf base in southern Syria.
The location of Al-Tanf is seen as essential to Iranian efforts to establish a so-called land corridor stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, where the Hezbollah terror group is based.