Archive for the ‘Iran – Syria war’ category

Netanyahu tells Putin: Israel will continue to act against Iran in Syria

July 20, 2018

PM Netanyahu and President Putin spoke by telephone four days after Putin’s meeting with US President Donald Trump in Moscow, in which both leaders spoke of the importance of Israel’s security.

By Tovah Lazaroff, REUTERS July 20, 2018 Jerusalem Post

Source Link: Netanyahu tells Putin: Israel will continue to act against Iran in Syria

{There goes the neighborhood. – LS}

Israel will continue to act against Iran in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday as Syrian rebels were due to evacuate the border area near Israel’s Golan Heights.

The two spoke by telephone four days after Putin’s meeting with US President Donald Trump in Moscow, in which both leaders spoke of the importance of Israel’s security. Trump later told Fox News that Putin was a fan of “Bibi.”

Netanyahu and Putin spoke of regional developments and the situation in Syria, according to the Prime MInister’s Office.

He said that, “Israel would continue to act against the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria,” Netanyahu said.

On Thursday Trump tweeted that he looked forward to his next meeting with Putin, “so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more. There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems…but they can ALL be solved!”

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are due to resume control of Syrian area of the Golan Heights.

“We are awaiting the start of the operation and God willing it will happen today,” Hammam Dbayat, the governor of al-Quneitra province, told Reuters, as buses prepared to transport out rebel fighters to the northwestern province of Idlib.

Reuters footage filmed from the Israeli side of the frontier showed men climbing into trucks piled high with belongings and leaving al-Qahtaniya village at the Golan frontier. It was not clear where they were headed.

Tens of thousands of people have been sheltering at the frontier since the government offensive began one month ago.

With the Russian-backed offensive closing in, rebels in Quneitra agreed on Thursday to either accept the return of state rule, or leave to Idlib province in the north, echoing terms imposed on defeated rebels elsewhere in Syria. Idlib’s population has been swollen by Syrians fleeing from Assad’s advances elsewhere.

The offensive has restored Syrian government control over a swathe of the southwest, strategically vital territory at the borders with Jordan and Israel.

It has been one of the swiftest military campaigns of the seven-year-long war. The United States, which once armed the southern rebels, told them not to expect its intervention as the offensive got underway. Many surrendered quickly.

While swathes of Syria remain outside his control, Assad’s advances over the past two years have brought him ever closer to snuffing out the armed rebellion that grew out of a civilian uprising against his rule in 2011.

It leaves the insurgency with one last big foothold – a chunk of territory in the northwest at the border with Turkey stretching from Idlib province to the city of Jarablus northeast of Aleppo. The deployment of the Turkish military in this area will complicate further gains for Assad.

Large areas of the northeast and east also remain outside Assad’s grasp. These areas are held by Kurdish-led militias, supported by 2,000 U.S. troops on the ground.

Dbayat said it remained unclear exactly how many fighters would leave Quneitra, but the government had so far prepared 45 buses. “We are ready to move the militants out of the area, and if it is completed, we will immediately provide the necessary services to residents, including electricity and water.”

State TV said 10 buses had entered a village in Quneitra on Thursday night for the evacuation of insurgents “who refuse to settle with the state” towards rebel territory in the north.

The offensive sparked the largest exodus of the war, uprooting more than 320,000 people mostly towards the southern borders. Both neighbors Israel and Jordan said they would not take in refugees.

Many people left the frontier with Jordan after government forces took the Nassib border crossing and rebels in Deraa province agreed a surrender deal last week.

Syrian state media claims Israeli missiles strike near Damascus airport

June 26, 2018

Hit ’em hard, my Israeli friends.

And hit ’em where it hurts.

Syrian state media claims Israeli missiles strike near Damascus airport

https://www.timesofisrael.com/syrian-state-media-claims-israeli-missiles-strike-near-damascus-airport/

Observer group says reported attack targeted Hezbollah arms depots; Assad forces ‘failed to intercept the missiles’

Syrian state media said early Tuesday that two Israeli missiles struck near Damascus International Airport, without adding any details.

In a report in the early hours of Tuesday, Syria’s state news agency said “two Israeli missiles came down near Damascus international airport.”

The head of monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, also said that “the Israeli missiles hit arms depots for Hezbollah near the airport.”

He said the air strike took place at 1:00 am local time “without causing huge explosions” even though they hit the weapons stores.

The observatory added that the Syrian air defense “failed to intercept the missiles.”

Israel has warned of a growing Iranian military presence in neighbouring Syria, which it sees as a threat to its safety.

Its military has been carrying out strikes on Iranian and Iran-affiliated targets in Syria, with a US official saying it was Israeli forces that carried out a deadly strike against an Iraqi paramilitary base in eastern Syria on June 17.

On Sunday, forces loyal to the regime of Syrian strongman Bashar Assad reportedly took control of an abandoned UN post in the no-man’s land between the Israeli and Syrian areas of the Golan Heights.

The post, abandoned by United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) troops on the Golan, is meant to be free of both Israeli and Syrian troops, according to the cessation of hostilities agreement between the two countries that followed the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

According to the report, UNDOF has identified ongoing infrastructure work at the site.

The IDF said in a statement that it was “aware of what is taking place, and views [the takeover of the site and] the infrastructure work at the post as a serious and flagrant violation of the separation-of-forces agreement.”

The IDF statement suggested Israel might act to remove the forces from the post by force. Officials told the Kan broadcaster that Israel “sees UNDOF as responsible for tracking and acting against military forces in the separation zone, and is determined to prevent military entrenchment in that area.”

The report came just hours after an Israeli Patriot missile was fired at a drone that approached from Syria toward Israel’s airspace. Israeli officials believe the drone belonged to regime forces.

According to Hebrew-language reports, the IDF is bracing for an uptick in fighting in Syrian areas adjacent to the Israeli border, and expects incidents of stray fire to enter Israeli territory.

As fighting between the main factions in the Syrian civil war threatened to overwhelm UNDOF positions, the UN troops left the demilitarized buffer zone for Israel in 2014.

 

Russia Constrains Iran

June 4, 2018


Poster showing Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Russian President Vladimir Putin
(ABNA News – Iran)

BY Amb. Dore Gold June 3, 2018 VIA Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Source Link: Russia Constrains Iran

{Iran is like the house guest who never leaves, only worse. – LS}

In an astounding series of statements, Russia has made it clear that it expects all foreign forces to withdraw from Syria. Alexander Lavrentiev, President Putin’s envoy to Syria, specified on May 18, 2018, that all “foreign forces” meant those forces belonging to Iran, Turkey, the United States, and Hizbullah.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov added this week that only Syrian troops should have a presence on the country’s southern border, close to Jordan and Israel. Previously, Russia had been a party to the establishment of a “de-escalation zone” in southwestern Syria along with the United States and Jordan. Now, Russian policy was becoming more ambitious.  Lavrov added that a pullback of all non-Syrian forces from the de-escalation zone had to be fast.

The regime in Tehran got the message and issued a sharp rebuke of its Russian ally. The Iranians did not see their deployment in Syria as temporary. Five years ago, a leading religious figure associated with the Revolutionary Guards declared that Syria was the 35th province of Iran. Besides such ideological statements, on a practical level, Syria hosts the logistical network for Iranian resupply of its most critical Middle Eastern proxy force, Hizbullah, which has acquired significance beyond the struggle for Lebanon.

Over the years, Hizbullah has become involved in military operations in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and elsewhere. Without Syria, Iran’s ability to project power and influence in an assortment of Middle Eastern conflicts would be far more constrained. Syria has become pivotal for Tehran’s quest for a land corridor linking Iran’s western border to the Mediterranean. The fact that Iran was operating ten military bases in Syria made its presence appear to be anything but temporary.

Already in February 2018, the first public signs of discord between Russia and Iran became visible. At the Valdai Conference in Moscow, attended by both Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (and by this author), the Russian Foreign Minister articulated his strong differences with the Iranians over their pronouncements regarding Israel: “We have stated many times that we won’t accept the statements that Israel, as a Zionist state, should be destroyed and wiped off the map. I believe this is an absolutely wrong way to advance one’s own interests.”

Iran was hardly a perfect partner for Russia. True, some Russian specialists argued that Moscow’s problems with Islamic militancy emanated from the jihadists of Sunni Islam, but not from Shiite Islam, which had been dominant in Iran since the 16th century. But that was a superficial assessment. Iran was also backing Palestinian Sunni militants like Islamic Jihad and Hamas. This May, Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, told a pro-Hizbullah television channel that he had regular contacts with Tehran.

Iran Supports both Shiites and Sunnis

Iran was also supporting other Sunni organizations like the Taliban and the Haqqani network in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It harbored senior leaders from al-Qaeda. Indeed, when the founder of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, sought a regional sanctuary after the fall of Afghanistan to the United States, he did not flee to Pakistan, but instead, he moved to Iran. There is no reason why Iran could not provide critical backing for Russia’s adversaries in the future.

But that was not the perception in Moscow when Russia gave its initial backing for the Iranian intervention in Syria. In the spring of 2015, Moscow noted that the security situation in Central Asia was deteriorating, as internal threats to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan were increasing. On top of all this, the Islamic State (IS) was making its debut in Afghanistan. An IS victory in Syria would have implications for the security of the Muslim-populated areas of Russia itself.

It was in this context that Russia dramatically increased arms shipments to its allies in Syria. It also coordinated with Iran the deployment of thousands of Shiite fighters from Iraq and Afghanistan under the command of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). That also meant the construction of an expanded military infrastructure on Syrian soil for this Shiite foreign legion.

At the same time, Russia maintained and upgraded a naval base at the Syrian city of Tartus and an air facility at the Khmeimim Air Base near Latakia. Moscow also had access to other Syrian facilities as well.

Russia Achieved Its Main Goal and Changed Its Policy

What changed in Moscow? It appears that the Kremlin began to understand that Iran handicapped Russia’s ability to realize its interests in the Middle East. The Russians had secured many achievements with their Syrian policy since 2015. They had constructed a considerable military presence that included air and sea ports under their control in Syria. They had demonstrated across the Middle East that they were not prepared to sell out their client, President Bashar Assad, no matter how repugnant his military policies had become – including the repeated use of chemical weapons against his own civilian population. The Russians successfully converted their political reliability into a diplomatic asset, which the Arabs contrasted with the Obama administration’s poor treatment of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt at the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011. However, now Iran was putting Russia’s achievements at risk through a policy of escalation with Israel.

The Russian security establishment appeared to understand from the start that Israel’s strategy in Syria was essentially defensive. For example, Israel wanted to prevent the delivery of weapons to Hizbullah that could alter the military balance in its favor. One feature of Russian military policy at a very early stage was the carte blanche Moscow appeared to give Israel to strike at these weapons deliveries and later at Iranian facilities across Syria.

According to one report, a Moscow think tank, closely identified with President Putin, published a commentary blaming Iran for the deteriorating situation between Iran and Israel in the Syrian theater. The Sunni Arab states, which Russia was courting, were also voicing their concerns with growing Iranian activism. Undoubtedly, the Russians noticed the complaints that came from Tajikistan this year that Iran was seeking to destabilize the country by funding militant Islamists.


Russian President Putin meets with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Mohammed Khatami in 2015 (Kremlin)

Putin seemed to have growing reservations about Iran’s policy of exporting the Islamic revolution from the soil of Syria. Now, with IS fundamentally vanquished, Iranian military activity in Syria lost its primary justification. And if Moscow was considering to more closely coordinate its Middle Eastern policy with Washington in the future, it needed to adjust its approach to Iran.

On May 22, 2018, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed aspects of Iranian activism which the United States was now demanding that Iran halt. It was not surprising to see in Pompeo’s list the demand that “Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety [of] Syria.”

Russia is not cutting its ties with Iran. But it is clearly cutting back Iran’s freedom of action in Syria. The idea that Russia would back Iran’s use of Syria as a platform for operations against Israel or Jordan is not tenable. Still, Russia would remain the primary supplier of Bashar Assad’s army in Syria as well as his strategic partner. Unquestionably, Iran would need to reassess its Middle Eastern strategy after Moscow’s pronouncements calling for it to leave Syria and not continue to be perceived as the force that put at risk all that Russia had achieved as a result of the Syrian civil war.

Iran Wants to Stay in Syria Forever

June 2, 2018

Russia and Israel are ramping up pressure on Iran to withdraw. But Tehran is intent on recouping its investment of blood and treasure.


A Syrian man holds the Iranian flag as a convoy carrying aid provided by Iran arrives in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor on Sept. 20, 2017. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

BY BORZOU DARAGAHI | JUNE 1, 2018 VIA Foreign Policy

Source Link:
Iran Wants to Stay in Syria Forever

{Iran is making a big mistake.  They should cut their losses and stop throwing good money after bad.  Of course, they won’t.  Their hate for Israel transcends the very well-being of their own people and will only serve to be their undoing.   – LS}

Hamid Rezai was among the latest batch of soldiers to die for Iran in Syria, killed by an alleged Israeli rocket attack on the T4 airbase near Homs. He was a 30-year-old native of the capital, Tehran, a pious young man whose father had also been a soldier and who left behind an infant daughter. At Rezai’s late April burial service, his weeping mother said there was no stopping him from volunteering to fight in Syria. “It offends me when people ask, ‘Why didn’t you stand in his way?’” she said, according to an account in the hard-line Mashregh News. “My son chose his own path.”

Rezai’s death added to the more than 2,000 Iranian military deaths in Syria since Tehran began pouring troops and tremendous amounts of resources into the country to defend the regime of Bashar al-Assad from an armed uprising. Israel is pressing Russia, the main powerbroker in Syria, and other international players to get Iran to leave Syria, threatening more strikes on Iranian positions near its border at the Golan Heights or anywhere inside the country should it remain. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed Iran’s withdrawal from Syria as one of 12 preconditions for removing sanctions after the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal last month.

But Iranian officials and other experts say the country has invested too much blood and treasure — upwards of $30 billion to date — to fold to international demands, regardless of Israeli airstrikes, or even Moscow’s pressure. Having already made such a massive investment, Iran is determined to reap the potential long-term strategic rewards Syria has to offer — even if it comes at the expense of more lives and money in the short term.

“I don’t think Iran is willing to abandon its presence in Syria,” said the editor of a leading Tehran news outlet, who spoke to Foreign Policy on condition of anonymity. “It gives Iran good leverage against Israel. The ground is very important, and Iran is very skillful at managing the ground — the one area where even Russians are weak. The one who has control of the ground doesn’t take seriously those who don’t.”

Iran insists it is in Syria at the behest of Damascus and will only leave at its request. “As long as necessary and as long as terrorism exists there and the Syrian government wants us to do this, Iran will maintain its presence in Syria and will offer its contribution to the Syrian government,” said Bahram Qassemi, the spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, according to the BBC.

Assad said in a Russian TV interview this week that there have never been Iranian troops inside Syria. “We have Iranian officers who work with the Syrian army as help,” he said. “But they don’t have troops.”

Iran, along with its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, originally intervened in Syria to defend a regime that had long been its loyal ally at a time when much of the world had written off Assad as another casualty of the Arab Spring uprisings. Over the last seven years, the Iranian investment in Syria has escalated to billions of dollars in military and economic pursuits, sometimes intertwined. Iran has recruited and trained militia recruits from across the Middle East and South Asia deployed to Syria, and provided for the families of those killed. According to calculations by Mansour Farhang, a United States-based scholar and former Iranian diplomat, Iran has spent at least $30 billion on Syria in military and economic aid. The estimates by Nadim Shehadi, a Middle East scholar at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, are even higher, at $15 billion a year and some $105 billion in total. Either figure would be politically controversial at a volatile moment when Iranians at home are demanding accountability and fiscal prudence.

“They’ve made so much economic and political investment,” Farhang said. “It’s very difficult for them to pick up their bags and go home.”

Iranian forces currently operate out of 11 bases around the country, as well as nine military bases for Iranian-backed Shiite militias in southern Aleppo, Homs, and Deir Ezzor provinces as well as about 15 Hezbollah bases and observation points mostly along the Lebanese border and in Aleppo, according to Nawar Oliver, a military researcher at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies, a think tank in Istanbul.

Military analysts said Iran is already under Russian pressure to relocate troops and militias now in Syria’s south to Deir Ezzor, west of the Euphrates River. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned this week that Israel would strike against any attempt by Iran to “establish itself militarily” in Syria, “not just opposite the Golan Heights, but any place in Syria.” Former Israeli United Nations envoy Dore Gold insisted Netanyahu was not being hyperbolic, but meant the entire country. “From a clear military standpoint, Israel wants Iran out of Syria,” said Gold, now director of the Jerusalem Center, a think tank. “That means Syria within its boundaries.”

But Iran’s involvement in Syria goes beyond a conventional military presence, and it has already begun to plant there the seeds of its unique financial and ideological institutions. Along with about a dozen other Iran-linked organizations, the Iran-backed Jihad al-Binaa, the Islamic charitable foundation that financed and organized the reconstruction of southern Beirut after the 2006 summer war, is already working on large projects to rebuild schools, roads, and other infrastructure in Aleppo and other towns, as well as providing aid for the families of slain Iran-backed Syrian militiamen.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard general: ‘Resistance is the only way’

May 10, 2018

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS May 10, 2018 12:49

Source: Iranian Revolutionary Guard general: ‘Resistance is the only way’

{To this day, the Iranians are still playing the ‘proxy card’ by insisting the Syrians are the ones who attacked Israel with missiles. However, if Salami follows through on threats to attack Tel Aviv, Tehran will be fair game. So much for proxies. – LS}

Hours after Israeli strikes on Iranian military targets in Syria, which reportedly killed 23 people, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Force, said that “resistance is the only way to confront” Iran’s enemies, “not diplomacy.”

“Wherever Iran has confronted its enemies, it has advanced; we have gained our power through difficult battles,” Salami said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

While Salami’s immediate subject was the reports of European efforts to salvage the Iran nuclear deal following US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 agreement on Tuesday, his words also seemed to refer obliquely to the Israeli operation, which struck 50 Iranian targets in Syria after 20 rockets were fired toward Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights, according to the IDF. 28 Israeli fighter jets participated in the attack and Israel also fired more than 10 tactical ground-to-ground missiles, a Russian Defense Ministry statement quoted by Interfax news agency said.

European countries are powerless to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, Salami said.

Iranian media is portraying the confrontation as an unprecedented Syrian attack on Israel.

“Tens of Israeli military centers… came under attack,” reported the English website of the semi-official Fars News Agency, quoting Syrian media. “The Israeli Iron Dome defense shield has failed to intercept the rockets.”

Other Iranian media sources, including Mashregh News, Iranian Student News Agency, and others, have presented the events in similar terms.

Responding on Twitter to a CNN report on the Israeli strikes, Syrian Member of Parliament Fares Shehabi denied that Iranians had launched the rockets against Israel.

Fares Shehabi MP @ShehabiFares

The Syrian army (not Iranians) launched 50 rockets (not 20) to several Israeli army targets in the Golan, and most rockets hit their targets.

Fares Shehabi MP @ShehabiFares

It is time we strike back at Tel Aviv and not only at the occupied Golan Heights!

The Syrian army (not Iranians) launched 50 rockets (not 20) to several Israe

Speaking to reporters Thursday morning, IDF spokesperson Brig-Gen. Ronen Manelis said that none of the 20 rockets fired from Syria had struck Israeli territory.

“Iron Dome intercepted the rockets. There are no injuries and no damage was caused to IDF positions,” Manelis said.

Manelis also clarified that Israel had targeted Iranian forces in Syria.

“The Quds Force paid a heavy price last night. We have seen a demonstration of the IDF’s intelligence and airpower capabilities.”

Jubeir: Saudi Arabia will seek nuclear weapon if Iran does

May 9, 2018


Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir made the statement during his interview with CNN. (Al Arabiya)

AFP Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Source: Jubeir: Saudi Arabia will seek nuclear weapon if Iran does

{Iran’s list of enemies grows longer. – LS}

Saudi Arabia will seek to develop its own nuclear weapons if Iran does, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told CNN on Wednesday, amid spiraling tension between the regional rivals.

Asked whether Riyadh would “build a bomb itself” if Tehran seizes on Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran deal to resume a nuclear weapons program, Jubeir said: “If Iran acquires nuclear capability we will do everything we can to do the same.”

Saudi Arabia has long said it would match any Iranian weapons development, but Jubeir’s renewed vow came after US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of an accord designed to prevent Tehran’s alleged quest for the bomb.

And it came amid growing tension over Iran’s support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have been firing rockets across the border.

Riyadh, which is part of a regional coalition that intervened in Yemen’s civil war to fight the Houthis, accuses Iran of supplying the militia with ballistic missiles.

“These missiles are Iranian manufactured and delivered to the Huthis. Such behavior is unacceptable. It violates UN Resolutions with regards to ballistic missiles. And the Iranians must be held accountable for this,” Jubeir told CNN.

“We will find the right way and at the right time to respond to this,” he warned. “We are trying to avoid at all costs direct military action with Iran, but Iran’s behavior such as this cannot continue. This amounts to a declaration of war.”

 

Following Threat from Iran, Israel Strikes Syrian Position in Response to Spillover Fire

April 24, 2018

by TheTower.org Staff | 04.23.18 5:36 pm

Source Link: Following Threat from Iran, Israel Strikes Syrian Position in Response to Spillover Fire

{How dare Israel interrupt Assad while he’s busy killing more of his citizens. – LS}

Following a threat from an Iranian general to destroy Israel, the IDF targeted a position of the Syrian army, a client of Iran, after spillover fire landed in Israel, The Times of Israel reported Monday.

According to the IDF, a mortar landed near Israel’s border fence with Syria following a skirmish between the Syrian army and rebel groups in the area. Israel then targeted a Syrian artillery cannon which was in the general area where the mortar was fired from.

A statement from the IDF said, “The IDF sees the Syrian regime as responsible for every action in its territory and will not tolerate violations of the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its citizens.”

The latest limited clash between Israel and Syria comes in the wake of a threat against Israel by Iran, the patron of Syria’s ruler Bashar al-Assad.

On Saturday, Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, commander of Iran’s army, threatened that Iran’s regular army and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) would combine to “annihilate” Israel within 25 years, Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agencyreported.

“When the arrogant powers create a sanctuary for the Zionist regime to continue survival, we shouldn’t allow one day to be added to the ominous and illegitimate life of this regime,” Mousavi said while addressing a ceremony in Tehran.

Though he echoed a prediction about Israel’s destruction articulated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s first in 2015 and reiterated in 2016, Mousavi explained that Iran’s military will continuously be working towards that goal until then.  “The Army will move hand in hand with the IRGC so that the arrogant system will collapse and the Zionist regime will be annihilated,” he added.

On Friday, IRGC Lieutenant Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami made similar comments, threatening that if war broke out between Israel and Iran, “you can be assured that it will result in wiping you off, the smallest target is your existence, there is no smaller target than that.”

Salami’s language closely mirrors a threat that Israel “must be wiped off the earth,” which was written on a ballistic missile that Iran tested two years ago.

Iran has ratcheted up its rhetoric against Israel since an airstrike against an airbase in Syria, where Iran had personnel and advanced weapons. Seven Iranian military personnel were killed in the airstrike, which has been attributed to Israel. One, an IRGC colonel, was reportedly in charge of Iran’s drone program. In February, a drone launched from the airbase, known as T-4, penetrated Israeli airspace, before being shot down. Last week, Israel announced that the drone was loaded with explosives and was meant to carry out an attack on Israeli soil.