Iran warns Syria conflict could engulf Israel

Officials in Jerusalem say Damascus and Hezbollah have tried to pull Israel into conflict from outset.

Syrian President Bashar Assad 370 (R) (photo credit: Sana / Reuters)
Syrian President Bashar Assad 370 (R)
(photo credit: Sana / Reuters)
Iran warned on Sunday against foreign intervention in Syria and said the conflict there could engulf Israel.
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani accused the US and regional countries he did not name of providing military support to rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“The fire that has been ignited in Syria will take the fearful [Israelis] with it,” Larijani said on Sunday, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
One Israeli government official said that since the beginning of the unrest in Syria last year, both Syria and the Iranians “have been trying to bring Israel into it because they think it serves their interests.”
Both Iran and Hezbollah, the official said, “are on the ground inside Syria supporting the Assad regime, and are part of the brutal machine that is butchering the people of Syria.”
While Israel – beyond offering humanitarian aid – has taken pains to stay out of the situation in Syria, Israel’s leadership has said in the past two weeks that it would not tolerate the transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile to Hezbollah.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel did not want to act in Syria, but would do so if necessary to prevent chemical weapon “leakage.”
Syria has accused Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia of backing rebels in Syria and fueling violence there. Iran has supported Assad’s efforts to crush the revolt and has accused Western countries and Israel of interfering in the crisis.
“What really allows these countries to interfere in internal Syrian affairs?” Larijani was quoted as saying.
He is considered a moderate conservative and a close follower of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the most powerful man in Iran who decides foreign policy.
Larijani is also a critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and widely expected to run for president in 2013.
Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, a key ally of Khamenei and father-in-law to the paramount leader’s son Mojtaba, said on Sunday the people of Syria should not allow the US and Israel to break the “resistance front,” IRNA reported.
“Since the Americans and [Israelis] do not want to solve the Syrian issue, they continue to make the... region insecure,” Haddad Adel was quoted as saying.
On Friday, following his visit to Moscow to discuss Syria, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said “terrorist groups” supported by foreign forces were operating in Damascus and Aleppo, IRNA reported.
Amir-Abdollahian said “tens of thousands of weapons” had entered Syria from neighboring countries and were being used by groups including al-Qaida.
“Unfortunately, America and regional countries... do not take steps to control the borders,” Amir-Abdollahian was quoted as saying.
Amir-Abdollahian said he did not believe Syria would be attacked by foreign powers, but that if it were, it would not need Iran’s help to defend itself.
“Syria has been ready for years to respond to any military attack against it by [Israel] or other countries, and can respond strongly to any military action by itself and with complete readiness,” he said.