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Israel Not To Stop Operations Until Iran Driven Out Of Syria, Defense Minister Says

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, from the Jewish Home party, delivers a statement in Tel Aviv, Israel December 29, 2018.

Speaking to the state-owned Kan 11 news channel on Tuesday following airstrikes in the north of Syria that killed at least 14 fighters, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel will keep up its operations in Syria until Iran is driven out.

"Iran has nothing to do in Syria... (and) we won't stop before they leave Syria," Bennet said and maintained that Iran was "trying to establish itself on the border with Israel to threaten Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa", calling Syria Iran's Vietnam.

Israel has recently launched several major airstrikes in Syria against Iranian forces and its proxies, including the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The government of Israel, however, rarely confirms details of its operations.

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which monitors the war in Syria, the latest overnight strikes on Tuesday came minutes after Syrian air defenses intercepted Israeli air raid over the north of the country in Abu Kamal region. According to the Syrian government news agency SANA, Israel targeted a "research center" near Aleppo. The report said all of the fighters who were killed in the latest Israeli airstrike were Iranians or Iraqis.

On Monday The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior Israeli defense source as saying that for the first time since Iran entered Syria, the Islamic Republic is reducing its forces and clearing out from bases there.

"We are determined, more determined, and I will tell you why - for Iran, Syria is an adventure 1,000 miles from home, but for us it is life,” Naftali Bennett said on Sunday.

“Iranian soldiers who come to Syria and act there are endangering their lives. They are risking their lives and will pay with their lives. We will not give up nor allow the establishment of a forward Iranian base in Syria," he added.

Iranian officials have not commented on the Tuesday Israeli strikes in Syria.

With reporting from AFP.