A satellite image claiming to show a n Iranian military base outside Damascus.
(photo credit: IMAGESAT INTERNATIONAL (ISI))
Iran has established a new permanent military base built 12 kilometers northwest of the Syrian capital Damascus, American news station Fox News reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, Western intelligence sources estimated that the base, which contains large hangars, can store ballistic missiles capable of hitting Israel and is operated by the Quds Force - the special operations arm of Tehran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
A base similar to the one revealed in the new satellite photos was discovered last November
south of Damascus and was destroyed in December by an Israeli airstrike.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tempered the report, speaking on Israel Public Radio on Wednesday morning, and stating that "not every report has to be treated as something absolute."
He reiterated however that Israel would not allow Iran to establish a permanent presence in Syria that can threaten Israel.
Israel last came into direct conflict with Iran on February 10, when an Israel Air Force attack helicopter shot down an Iranian-operated drone and later took out its command center in Syria.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in response, said at the Munich conference
on Feburary 18 that Iran was trying to change the status quo through nefarious moves in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. He emphasized that Israel will act not just against Iran's proxies but against Iran itself.
Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of Iran's Expediency Council, responded to Netanyahu's comments in an interview with Lebanese Al-Manar News, denying the Islamic Republic's interference in the region and warned that any attack carried out by Israel against Iran will result in the destruction of Tel Aviv.
Former Israeli defense minister Amir Peretz said on Twitter Wednesday that the report of a new base demands determined diplomatic action by the prime minister. "The message must be made clear that Iranian military entrenchment constitutes a red line that must not be crossed. If need be, all options will be examined to prevent the entrenchment on the northern border," he wrote.