Iran's Revolutionary Guards Vow to Keep 'Effective' Presence in Syria
09:19 14.10.2018(updated 09:38 14.10.2018)
Tehran has repeatedly insisted that Iran has limited its assistance to Syria in the fight against Islamist extremists to the provision of military advisers, and that no regular forces are present.
Iran's military advisory presence in Syria will be in place as long as the Islamic Republic finds it "effective and useful," in line with the demands of Damascus, according to Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif, spokesman for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Speaking to the Iranian news agency Press TV, Sharif underlined that since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Tehran has adhered to international norms in supporting Damascus.
"This fabricated crisis has been led from abroad with the purpose of instigating insecurity in Syria and creating a safety margin for the Israeli regime," he pointed out.
Sharif described the outcome of the Syrian war as a "big loss" for Israel, which he said had to face a skilled Syrian Army while unsuccessfully trying to topple President Bashar Assad's government.
Sharif's remarks came about a week after IRGC deputy commander Hossein Salami said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "soon will have no choice but [to] flee into the sea."
"They are not at the level of being a threat for us; Hezbollah is enough for destroying them," Salami said. Accusing Tel Aviv of deceiving the world about Iran, he also blamed Israel for acting as a "political mannequin" in the US shop window.
In another development last week, Netanyahu pledged that Israel would "continue doing what it takes to defend itself" and "continue blocking Iran's attempts to use Syria and Lebanon as its forward bases to launch attacks on Israel."
In September, Netanyahu claimed that Tel Aviv had discovered a second secret nuclear facility in Tehran, vowing that Israel would "never" accept the efforts of "a regime that calls for our destruction to develop nuclear weapons." Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded by saying that Israel was the "only regime in our region with a secret and undeclared weapons program, including an "actual atomic arsenal."
Tensions between Iran and Israel reached a boiling point in recent months over the conflict in Syria. In September, a senior Israeli military official admitted that the Jewish state had struck over 200 targets in Syria over the past year and a half. Israel justified the attacks by claiming that their objective was to eliminate a suspected Iranian military presence in the Arab country.
Tehran and Damascus have rejected such charges, insisting that although Iran has military advisers assisting Syria in its fight against Islamist extremists, no regular forces are present. Damascus has repeatedly pointed out that assistance from Iran and the Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah has been approved by Syria's internationally recognized government.
Iran categorically refuses to recognize the Jewish state; Tehran severed all diplomatic and commercial relations with Israel after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and has repeatedly declared that what it calls the "Zionist regime" would disappear if it went to war with the Islamic Republic.
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