Iran Warns of ‘Crushing Response’ to Attacks in Syria

Iran remains a threat to Israel in Syria. Illustrative official meeting in Iran. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Evan Schneider

With Israel reportedly striking more Iranian targets in Syria over the weekend, Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued another threat against Israel and anyone else interested in disrupting Iranian actions in Israel’s northern neighbor. While simultaneously claiming that Iran’s presence in Syria is merely “advisory”, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh issued a blanket warning —in comments published by the Fars News Agency on Sunday—that “if anyone distorts this presence [in Syria], he/she will receive a crushing response.”

The threat from Iran’s diplomatic corps comes as The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported another airstrike over the weekend killed 14 militants aligned with Iran. The report said the attack was believed to be launched by Israel, although as of Sunday the IDF had not claimed official responsibility publicly. Positions of pro-Iranian militia allegedly from Afghanistan and Iraq were the apparent target of the latest hit. In addition to those killed, the report said that other militants were seriously injured and the death toll could rise.

After the airstrike, Iran made it clear their long-term vision was ongoing conflict in their fronts with Israel. Spokesman Khatibzadeh claimed “the aggressive character” of Israel “cannot be treated and the only way against it is one hundred percent resistance in all fronts… [in which] the regime attempts to foment tumult.”

He was quoted by Fars as referring to Israel as the Jerusalem “occupying regime”—again denying Israel’s legitimate claim to their historical capital—and then saying Israel “knows that the hit-and-run era ended long time ago and it moves cautiously.” Those claims that Israel was being hesitant to combat Iran appeared out of touch with recent events, as the weekend air assault comes just days after Israel publicly took responsibility for striking Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said on Twitter the IDF attack was “in response to IEDs placed against our troops” and that they “hold the Syrian regime and Iran responsible.”

Separately, the IDF Twitter feed confirmed that not only was Iran behind the most recent explosive device plot on the Syrian border, it was responsible for one a few months ago as well.

“Iran, we’re watching you. IDF intel can confirm that the Iranian Quds Force Unit 840, which is part of Iran’s global network of terror, was responsible for the IED attacks on the Israel-Syria border this week & in August 2020. We will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria,” said the IDF tweet.

Israel has repeatedly warned against Iran building a permanent military presence in Syria and has undertaken numerous air strikes to undercut the Iranian forces in the country and to prevent Iran from transferring advanced weaponry to terrorists.

Meanwhile, the conflict between Israel and Iran in Syria comes against the backdrop of a potential shift in the American approach to Iran—which Israel is already trying to stop. With Joe Biden the projected new President of the United States beginning on January 20, a key question is whether or not he will return the US to the Iran nuclear deal. Biden was Vice President to then-President Barack Obama, who helped orchestrate the deal in 2015.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, in comments published by his office, gave his thoughts on what should be done about the Iran nuclear deal. “There can be no going back to the previous nuclear agreement. We must stick to an uncompromising policy of ensuring that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons,” said Netanyahu.

He further noted an additional benefit to pushing back against the Iranian nuclear program beyond preventing Iran from getting the bomb. Alluding to part of the motivation behind the recent Israel-Arab peace deals, Netanyahu said, “Thanks to our determined stand against the nuclearization of Iran, and to our opposition to the nuclear agreement with Iran, many Arab countries have fundamentally changed their approach to Israel.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, November 22, 2020)

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