Defense Minister Liberman tours northern border.
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Israel will do what ever it takes to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military bases in Syria, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Tuesday during a visit to the Golan Heights.
“No matter what the price, we will not allow Iran to have a permanent [military] foothold in Syria. We have no other choice,” Liberman said.
Such a situation is akin to a “noose around our neck,” Liberman said, adding that there was no better way to describe the situation.
He spoke just one day after Russia, Syria and Iran charged that two Israeli F-15 combat jets fired eight missiles
at the Tiyas military air-force base. Known as T-4, it is the largest such air-force base and is believed to house an Iranian complex that supplies arms to Tehran’s ally, Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah. It is also believed that Israel, which executes airstrikes in Syria against Iranian and Hezbollah targets, struck the same base in February
.Iran has threatened to retaliate.
Liberman told reporters who met with him in the town of Katzrin that he knew nothing about Monday morning’s airstrike. “I don't know what happened there or who attacked," he said.
“Unfortunately, we see more and more attempts by Iran to establish itself in Syria, and not for humanitarian or cultural reasons. They have no intention of placing museums or cultural and educational centers there,” Liberman said.
“We will do everything that is in our power to do” in order to block Iran from gaining control in Syria, he said.
He recalled how in the past Israeli politicians had operated under the illusion that Israel should return the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967.
“Imagine what would happen if today, if God forbid, the Golan Heights were in the hands of the Assad regime. Or what would have happened if we had not destroyed the [nuclear] reactor in Deir al-Zor
[in 2007]. We have clear understanding and strategy and we will do everything we have to do,” Liberman said.
But military might is not the only way to prevent an Iranian presence in Syria, Liberman said. He called on those who could influence the situation to block Tehran from creating a military base in Syria.
With regard to the United States, he said America was “Israel’s strategic partner” and had historically supported Israel. But it is also the largest world power with with its own interests and policies, Liberman said.
“We will accept any decision the White House makes,” he said.