Syrian President Bashar Assad met on Tuesday in Damascus with an unnamed senior Iranian official to discuss ways to cope with Israeli airstrikes in the war-torn country, reported regime-affiliated Syrian newspaper Al-Watan.
According to the report, the Iranian official also discussed with Assad the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan and presented Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s plan to contend with it.
The report comes against the backdrop of recent attacks on pro-Iranian forces in Syria, some which have been attributed to Israel though it denies involvement. In other cases, Israel has taken responsibility for attacks in Syria. In the past year, senior Israeli officials, chief among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have been increasingly candid about confronting Iranian entrenchment in Syria.
The head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Tamir Heyman, said in June: “We are in a situation where Iran still represents a central economic counterweight in the Middle East. Iranian technology and money feed the various players in the area. [Iran] is under American pressure. Iran is doing a great deal to manipulate and raise oil prices, but thus far this isn’t really working for them. The price of a barrel of oil today is $61.8. Oil consumption is at an all-time low, and the Iranian economy is in danger of destabilization. Across the world oil prices are stagnant, and this has been the trend over the past few years.”
Regarding Iranian entrenchment in the Middle East, Heyman said the “multidimensional pressure applied by Israel,” including its military activity, has stunted Tehran’s efforts in Syria.
However, Heyman said, Iran’s expansionism in the Middle East still hasn’t been halted completely.
“Iran is currently searching for other places to establish a foothold, for example in the Iraqi sphere,” he said.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.