A senior official in Iran warned that the approach in 2019 to Israeli attacks on the “Axis of Resistance”—presumably Iran, Syria and terror groups such as Hezbollah—would be “significantly different from the combat methods in the past.” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani made the comments in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency published on Saturday, where he also claimed that the Axis achieved “more than 90 percent” of their goals in Syria, a claim that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied a day alter.
“This is incorrect,” said Netanyahu of the Iranian assertion, according to comments published by his office on Sunday. “It is correct that they are trying and it is correct that we are blocking them. Last month another Iranian official said that they are only ‘advising’ Syria. The world hears very many Iranian lies.
“I have a clear message to the Iranian regime that wants to destroy Israel: Israel will continue to act as necessary in order to block Iranian military entrenchment in Syria.”
The Israeli leader reiterated plans to meet in person with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss Syria and Iran. The meeting had been planned for last week but was instead scheduled for this Wednesday, although they spoke by phone as an intro to the meeting.
“Of course, the Iranian issue topped our discussions; this we agreed on,” said Netanyahu. “I will discuss regional developments and the Iranian aggression with him.”
The Israel-Russian relationship is key, especially given the Russian involvement in Syria as an ally to the Syrian regime—which itself is a partner with Iran.
Russia made troubling headlines last year they promised to provide Syria with an advanced missile defense system. Iranian official Shamkhani may have been referencing that system or similar ones when he promised the “upgrading of deterrent power” in Syria against Israeli attacks.
A twitter post last week from ImageSat International, which does work in the satellite imagery field, claimed that three of the four Russian S-300 air defense systems are “probably” operational. The system theoretically makes Israeli air attacks in Syria more difficult.
The S-300 deployment occurred after Russia accused Israel of actions in the Syrian combat zone that resulted in Syrian air defenses shooting down a Russian plane, according to a report at the time by Sputnik International. Israel denied the claims.
So the second-half of the conversation Netanyahu said he planned to have with Putin later this week—on Israel-Russian cooperation in Syria—may be just as important to the fight with Iran as the conversation that focuses on the Islamic Republic. “We will also discuss strengthening the coordination mechanism between the IDF and the Russian military in order to preserve stability and prevent unnecessary friction in the region,” said Netanyahu on Sunday of his planned talk with Putin.
In a very complicated Syrian civil war that involves many players—and multiple enemies for Israel—Netanyahu went on to highlight just what his conversation with Putin will mean: “These talks are important for security and the IDF, and are very important for the State of Israel.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 24, 2019)