Israel's Minister of Defence has vowed to destroy any "Iranian foothold" in Syria, and even strike Tehran if Tel Aviv is attacked. Avigdor Lieberman made his comments in an interview with Saudi-owned Elaph news site on Thursday during his trip to Washington for meetings with US officials.
"Every outpost in which we see Iran positioning [itself] militarily in Syria, we will destroy," Lieberman claimed. "We will not allow this, no matter what the price."
Throughout the Syrian conflict, Israel has conducted air strikes against Iranian military bases in the war-torn country. Casualties include Iranian military advisers and pro-Assad regime forces. The last strike took place on 9 April, when an Israeli attack killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards at a Syrian airbase.
The Israelis claim that Iran is attempting to build a front against their country by clearing a land corridor across Syria up to Lebanon where it would link with its ally Hezbollah. At the same time, Iran is said to be entrenching itself deeper within Syria through its alliance with the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.
"We don't intervene in the war," explained Lieberman, "but Iran is trying to establish bases there [Syria] and attack us from there with advanced arms it brings to them." Israel's air strikes, the right-wing minister insisted, are intended to prevent Iran from becoming a threat to its eastern border.
Lieberman also threatened to strike Tehran if the Israeli capital Tel Aviv is attacked. "Israel doesn't want war… but if Iran attacks Tel Aviv, we will hit Tehran." This is being viewed as an unusually explicit threat for a senior Israeli minister to make.