Iran is applying increasing pressure on both Hezbollah and Syria to attack Israel, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 10. The goal is to increase Iran’s influence in the area.
A meeting took place Tuesday between Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij, who is also deputy commander of the Syrian armed forces, and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dehghan. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said the visit was aimed at “strengthening coordination and cooperation between the two armies … especially in the face of terrorism and common challenges in the region.”
Channel 10 reported that al-Freij was instructed to offer “forceful responses” to the recent alleged Israeli strikes in Syria.
“We will not allow anyone to infringe on Syria’s sovereignty,” Dehghan told Iranian media.
According to Channel 10 Arab affairs analyst Zvi Yehezkeli, Iran is trying to tighten its grip on the region by urging Hezbollah and Syria to provoke Israel, in the hopes that the escalation would lead to open conflict between Israel and Syria.
In a joint statement issued by the Iranian and Syrian defense ministers, “Syria, Iran and the axis of resistance will not allow their enemies to harm Syria or the region. Iran supports Syria unequivocally, and will continue to pursue the [two] nations’ strategic relationship.”
Last week, Israeli envoy to the UN Ron Prosor called upon the international body to condemn Syria for a recent cross-border terror attempt. A four-man terrorist cell was wiped out by the Israeli Defense Force as it tried to plant explosives along the Israel-Syria border. Two of the would-be terrorists were Israeli-born.
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council, Prosor wrote, “Israel holds Syria responsible for any attack or attempted attack emanating from its territory.”
“In recent months, the Syrian government has allowed terrorists to use its territory as a launching base to plant roadside bombs, fire rockets into Israel, and open fire on IDF forces inside Israel,” the letter stated.
“I have repeatedly warned about the growing threat in northern Israel. In my remarks last week to the Security Council, I described how Hezbollah, backed by Iran, is openly operating in the Golan Heights and preparing for a violent confrontation with Israel.”
The international community, Prosor continued, “can no longer ignore the warning signs. The threat to our region is very real. Israel will not accept any attacks on its territory and it will exercise its right to self-defense and take all necessary measures to protect its population.”
“I urge the Security Council to immediately and unequivocally condemn this attack and demand that the Syrian government abide by its obligations under international law.”