(JNS.org) Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman vowed that Israel will not allow Syria to become an Iranian outpost during a two-day tour of the Jewish state’s northern border.
“We maintain absolute freedom of action and the only considerations that guide us are the security considerations of Israel,” Lieberman said.
“With regards to Iran, we will simply not allow for Shi’ite consolidation and Iranian entrenchment in Syria, nor will we allow Syria to become a forward operating base against the state of Israel. Anyone who has yet to understand that is advised to do so,” he said.
Lieberman visited Israel’s northern border along with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Northern Command Chief Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, and the commanders of the military’s Bashan and Galilee divisions.
Lieberman’s declaration comes in response to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s statement earlier this week that Iran’s presence in Syria is “legitimate.”
Russia, the U.S. and Jordan last weekend reached a cease-fire agreement that would establish a “de-escalation zone” near Israel’s border. The agreement calls for the “reduction, and ultimate elimination” of foreign fighters from Syria. Yet there have been conflicting reports over the size of the de-escalation zone, where Iran and its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah will presumably not be allowed to operate. There are also questions about what constitutes a “foreign fighter” under the terms of the agreement.
Officials from the U.S. National Security Council this week flew to Israel for talks on the new cease-fire agreement. The American officials were expected to speak with their Israeli counterparts about Iran’s alleged construction of a military base less than 30 miles from Israel’s border with Syria.