Ya'alon in Washington: Israel 'very worried' about Iranian presence in Syria

"Attempts to transfer chemical or advanced weapons to Hezbollah will not be tolerated," says Defense Minister.

December 3, 2015 10:24
1 minute read.
Former defense minister Moshe Yaalon

Former defense minister Moshe Yaalon. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Speaking at the US Congress Wednesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon urged the US to stay wary of Iranian actions in Syria and across the region.

"We are very worried about Iran's presence in Syria," Ya'alon said.

"Iran's Quds Force is currently the only source actively working in Syria to attack us, trying to smuggle weapons and run messengers," he continued.

In the past, a number of attacks across the Syrian border have been attributed to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah remains firmly on Israel's radar, however. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that the IDF is active in Syria for the first time on Tuesday, after a string of recent airstrikes attributed to Israel hit regime and Hezbollah targets in the country.

Ya'alon in particular highlighted chemical and "advanced" weapons transfers to groups such as Hezbollah as key threats to Israel's security. Syria agreed to hand over 1300 tons of declared stocks of chemical weapons to an international team in 2013, however it is widely believed that the regime held back much of its undeclared supplies.

In support of this theory, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) recently concluded from a fact-finding mission to Syria that chemical weapons are still routinely used in the civil war. Unlike in 2013, when Syrian president Assad agreed to hand over mustard and sarin gas stockpiles, ISIS is now also in possession of chemical weapons, and deploying them against civilians.

Regarding the West's recent geopolitical pivot towards cooperation with Iran, Ya'alon warned the gathered representatives, "The Iranian regime is perceived as one of the key sources of stability for the Middle East, but we would argue that it is the heart of the problem. This regime generates terrorism and undermines many of the regimes in the Middle East, and this is not good news for the region, not only Israel. The Iranian terror network is active across the world, including the US."

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