Monday 16 September 2019

Israel warns Assad to kick Iranian forces out of Syria

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters
Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters Newsdesk Newsdesk

Israel's defence minister has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to "get rid" of Iranian forces in Syria, warning their continued presence would only cause problems.

Iran, meanwhile, in its first official reaction to the Israeli attacks on suspected Iranian targets in Syria, said Damascus has the legitimate right to respond to what it said were repeated violations of the country's sovereignty "under fabricated and baseless excuses".

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Braham Ghasemi added that the international silence in the face of such "aggressive moves" is in effect a "green light" to more such attacks.

A hard-line Iranian cleric threatened that Iran would retaliate if Israel "does anything foolish".

Israel attacked dozens of suspected Iranian targets in Syria in overnight strikes that it said were in response to an Iranian rocket barrage.

It was the most serious military confrontation between the two bitter enemies to date. The cross-border exchange gave way to a war of words.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier called for an immediate halt to "all hostile acts" to avoid "a new conflagration" in the Middle East.

Mr Guterres's comments came as a calm night followed intense attacks on parts of Syria by Israel.

Israel has called on the UN Security Council and secretary-general to condemn Iran's attack on its positions in the Golan Heights, occupied and annexed by Israel.

The Security Council is deeply divided over Syria, and it appears to be highly unlikely that it will issue a statement.

As of yesterday morning, no council member had asked for a meeting.

Irish Independent

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