Israel Hints It May Target Alleged Iranian Ballistic Missiles Deployed in Iraq
15:27 03.09.2018(updated 15:34 03.09.2018)
Tehran earlier rejected media reports that it was delivering short-range ballistic missiles and associated technology to Shiite militias in Iraq, calling the claims "false and ridiculous."
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said that Israel would not limit itself to Syria if it felt the need to deal with "Iranian threats" in the region.
"We are certainly monitoring everything that is happening in Syria, and regarding Iranian threats, we are not limiting ourselves just to Syrian territory. This also needs to be clear," Lieberman said, speaking at a news conference in Jerusalem on Monday, according to Reuters.
Asked directly whether Israel might target Iraq, Lieberman responded: "I'm saying that we will handle any Iranian threat, no matter where it comes from…Israel's freedom is total. We retain this freedom of action," the minister said.
On Sunday, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said it was "astonished" over earlier media reports about Iran's alleged movement of missiles to Iraq, stressing that the claims were "without evidence."
Baghdad's statement came on the heels of a sharp rebuke over the rumors by Tehran, with the Iranian Foreign Ministry calling the information "unacceptable and false" and saying it was aimed at "perpetuating political threats against Iran."
Iran, which has a strong domestic missile industry and is thought to possess over 1,000 short and medium-range missiles in its arsenal, is prohibited from transferring these weapons to third countries under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal. Tensions between Israel and its US ally on one side and Iran on the other escalated earlier this year after Washington pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Late last month, Reuters reported, citing anonymous Iranian sources as well as unnamed Iraqi and Western intelligence officials, that Tehran has allegedly supplied "a couple dozen" short-range ballistic missiles and the means for their production to Iraq over the past several months as a deterrent against possible foreign aggression.
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