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Netanyahu warns Assad to keep Iran out of Syria or ‘risk the future’ of his regime

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, delivers a statement to the press during a Likud Party meeting on 1 March 2020 in the city of Lod, Israel. [Amir Levy/Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, delivers a statement to the press during a Likud Party meeting on 1 March 2020 in the city of Lod, Israel. [Amir Levy/Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad earlier this week that he would be “risking the future” and survival of his regime if he continues to allow Iran to have a military presence in his country.

Speaking to reporters alongside the United States’ Representative for Iran Brian Hook yesterday, Netanyahu said: “We will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria.”

“I say to the ayatollahs in Tehran: ‘Israel will continue to take the actions necessary to prevent you from creating another terror and military front against Israel’,” he continued, turning his attention to Syria and adding: “I say to Bashar Assad: ‘You’re risking the future of your country and your regime.’”

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Netanyahu made it clear that Israel viewed Iran’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, where it has been supporting and fighting alongside the Assad regime, as a threat to Israel’s national security.”We are absolutely resolved to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in our immediate vicinity,” he said.

Discussing the arms embargo on Iran, which is set to expire in October, Hook warned that if the arms embargo is lifted it will allow Iran “to freely import fighter jets, attack helicopters, warships, submarines, large-caliber artillery systems and missiles of certain ranges.”

Iran, he continued, “will then be in a position to export these weapons and their technologies to their proxies such as Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Shia militia groups in Iraq and Shia militant networks in Bahrain and to the Houthis in Yemen.”

“The last thing that this region needs is more Iranian weapons,” Hook stressed.

Israel has long been opposed to the presence of Iran’s military advisors, sites and its proxy militias in Syria, and has conducted numerous air strikes against Iranian targets within the country over the years. Netanyahu’s warning, however, is the most direct threat that he has used against the Syrian regime.

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