(UPI) — An Israeli official said Monday his country would kill Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if Iran used Syrian territory to launch attacks on Israel.
“If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues allowing Iran to operate within Syrian territory, Israel will liquidate him and topple his regime,” Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli minister of national infrastructure, energy and water resources, told Ynet in an interview.
Steinitz, who said Israel hasn’t gotten involved in the Syrian civil war, said Assad should know that allowing Iran to use Syria as a military base would “be the end of him.”
“Assad cannot sit calmly in his palace and rehabilitate his regime while letting Syria be turned into a base for attacks against the state of Israel,” Steinitz said. “It’s very simple.”
Steinitz’s remarks come amid Israeli reports that Iran is planning a missile strike against Israel.
Iran has an estimated 70,000 fighters in Syria and likely more than 100,000 missiles and rockets in the region. Israeli officials have expressed concerns that Iran wants revenge for Israeli strikes against Syria’s defense.
On Sunday, chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Baqeri said his country is ready to respond to “any threat and act of aggression by the enemies” of Iran.
Israel’s claims come just days before U.S. President Donald Trump is set to decide whether to recertify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear agreement. Trump has until Saturday to decide.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Iran the “greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world” last month on a trip to Middle East — assuring Saudi Arabi and Israel that they’d have U.S. support.
“We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats toward Israel and the region,” Pompeo said, adding that the Iran deal was “very flawed” during an appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an aggressive opponent of the deal.
“We are determined to block Iran’s aggression against us even if this means a struggle. Better now than later,” Netanyahu said.
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