Lieberman: Iran has no military presence in Syria, they have proxies

‘There are some Iranian advisers and experts, but there are no military Iranian forces on Syrian soil,’ the defense minister tells Ynet, adding Israel ‘won’t allow Iran to establish a presence in Syria.’,7340,L-5048990,00.html

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserted Tuesday that “there is no physical military Iranian presence in Syria right now.”

Lieberman’s comment contradicts declarations made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has repeatedly warned of Iranian entrenchment

in Syria. The prime minister also said Iran was building missile factories in the war-torn country, noting that “where ISIS leaves, Iran enters.”In a briefing three months ago, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen updated government ministers about Iran’s entrenchment in the region using both Iranian forces and local proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

Defense Minister Lieberman

Defense Minister Lieberman
Furthermore, Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the elite Iranian Quds Force, was documented in Syria visiting forces in the field quite a few times.

“It’s true that there are some Iranian advisers and experts, but there are no military Iranian forces on Syrian soil,” Lieberman told Ynet in an interview on Tuesday.

“Iran has a strategy to create a proxy everywhere,” the defense minister explained. “After all, they don’t have a physical presence in Lebanon. For this, they have Hezbollah. They’re not physically present in Yemen, they have the Houthi rebels. They have the same plans in Syria—to create all kinds of militias of Shiite mercenaries, which they will bring from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“All of the players in the region know we are the strongest power in the Middle East. Israel is a regional power,” he asserted. “We won’t allow Iran to establish a presence in Syria.”

‘We’re dealing with trifles’

The “recommendations bill,” which would bar police from making recommendations on indictment, passed a first reading in the Knesset on Monday. The legislation passed thanks to a last-minute change of heart by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who, despite previous objections, agreed to the condition set by the Likud Party that would apply the law retroactively to the investigations against Netanyahu.

“I’m part of the coalition,” Lieberman said, explaining why he allowed the bill to pass. “There are bills you like more, and bills you like less. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, this is the nature of a coalition government. You have to take on tasks even when you don’t like them.”

He rejected claims the recommendations bill was a “personal bill” meant to help Netanyahu. “The one who initiated it, David Amsalem, is not exactly among Netanyahu’s people in the Likud… I remember a year and a half ago he was against Netanyahu and then changed directions again… I don’t believe he coordinated this with Netanyahu,” Lieberman claimed.

He dubbed the recommendations bill, as well as bill proposals concerning work on Shabbat, as “trifles.”

“There is an explosive security situation (in the region), fragile and tense. Look what’s happening around us, we’re dealing with trifles,” the defense minister argued.

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