An Israeli security cabinet minister said on Monday May 7 that Israel could kill Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and topple his government if Iran used Syrian territory to carry out attacks on Israel.
"Israel has not gotten involved in the (Syrian) civil war so far," Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz was quoted as telling the Israeli news site Ynet.
"If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues allowing Iran to operate within Syrian territory, Israel will liquidate him and topple his regime," Ynet quoted Steinitz as saying.
The statement was made one day after media reports indicated that Iran was “planning to launch a barrage of missiles against Israel,” and that “Iran is planning to retaliate for recent deadly airstrikes in Syria attributed to Israeli forces by having its proxies fire missiles at military targets in northern Israel sometime in the near future, defense officials warned on Sunday,” The Times of Israel wrote on May 6.
Steinitz further warned on Monday that the Syrian leader was jeopardizing his regime and its entire existence by allowing anyone, including Iran, to declare war on Israel from Syrian territory, “I hope this is clear to the Iranians and to Assad, who may be taking risks he will live to regret.”
"If Assad lets Iran turn Syria into a military base against us, to attack us from Syrian territory, he should know that will be the end of him," Steinitz stressed.
Commenting on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s statement ruling out the possibility of widespread conflict in the Middle East, Steinitz said, "The Iranians may be trying to lower tensions in the United States, but in the region they are increasing tensions and instability, in Syria and in the entire region."
He added that Tehran was turning Syria into a military base for Iran and highlighted that Tehran has already sent an explosive-strapped drone into Israeli borders.
In February, Iran sent a drone into Israel from the T-4 base in Syria, which came under missile strikes in April. At least seven Iranian military men were reportedly killed in the strikes.
Meanwhile, only a few days ahead of US President Donald Trump’s announcement on whether he is pulling the US out of Iran’s nuclear deal with the West, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would rather face a military confrontation with Iran “now than later”, reported The Telegraph on Sunday.
Netanyahu said, “We are determined to block Iran's aggression against us even if this means a struggle. Better now than later,” the Telegraph quoted him as saying.
According to the Israeli prime minister, Iran has recently boosted shipment of missiles to Syria.