In a recent speech, the deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) boasted that the “Islamic army in Syria” in the Golan Heights was awaiting orders to eradicate the “evil regime” of Israel.
He also said the Tehran-backed Hezbollah terror group had 100,000 missiles aimed at Israel.
“We are creating might in Lebanon because we want to fight our enemy from there with all our strength,” he stated. “Hezbollah today has tremendous might on the ground that can on its own break the Zionist regime. The Zionist regime has no strategic-defensive depth.”
In the speech for the anti-Israel al-Quds Day in June, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Hossein Salami said that the dangers Israel faces today are greater than at any time in history.
“Today an international Islamic army has been formed in Syria, and the voices of the Muslims are heard near the Golan,” he said. “Orders are awaited, so that… the eradication of the evil regime [Israel] will land and the life of this regime will be ended for good. The life of the Zionist regime was never in danger as it is now.”
Salami stressed that “the Zionist regime constitutes a threat… to the entire Islamic world. That is the philosophy of the establishment of this regime.”
He praised Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led the 1979 Iranian revolution, for making the destruction of Israel a goal of the regime.
Khomeini “spread the rationale of eradicating Israel as a new notion in the world’s political discourse,” Salami said. “Since then, the Zionist regime is fearful, delusional, and worried.”
Israel has for years warned of Iran’s ongoing attempts to entrench itself in Syria, and has been waging a quiet campaign to prevent Tehran from establishing a new front on its border. That campaign came into the light and shifted into more open conflict in February, when an Iranian drone carrying explosives briefly entered Israeli airspace, before it was shot down. In response Israel launched a counterattack on an air base in Syria, hitting the mobile command center from which the drone had been piloted and killing at least seven members of the IRGC.
Tehran vowed revenge after the T-4 army base strike. On May 10, the IRGC’s al-Quds Force launched 32 rockets at Israel’s forward defensive line on the Golan Heights border. Four of them were shot down; the rest fell short of Israeli territory.
In response, over the next two hours, Israeli jets fired dozens of missiles at Iranian targets in Syria and destroyed a number of Syrian air defense systems. The operation was widely seen as a success in Israel.
But Salami boasted of Iran’s success in launching the rockets, claiming the barrage silenced Israel.
“When the Zionists bombed the T-4 base in Syria and killed some young men, they thought that they would get no reaction. They thought that America’s and England’s support could frighten the resistance front. They thought that no one would respond,” Salami said. “But the response came in the Golan, and dozens of missiles were fired, along with the message ‘If you respond, we will flatten the heart of Tel Aviv into dust.’ They were silent, and did nothing further.”
Iran has been accused by Israel, the Trump administration, Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries of supporting terrorism and instability in the region.
Salami blamed Israel for all the Middle East’s troubles.
“All the problems of the Islamic world stem from the existence of the false, counterfeit, historically rootless, and identity-less regime named Israel,” he said.
On Sunday Syrian air defenses were activated near the T-4 air base, in response to an airstrike on the facility, which Syrian state media attributed to the Israeli military, although as a rule, the Israeli military does not comment on its operations abroad.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.