Israel's Defense Minister says Iran is on the brink of economic and military collapse, and that Israel will attack Tehran "and destroy every Iranian military outpost in Syria threatening Israel," according to Arab-language publication Elaph and reported by Israeli media Thursday.
“They know that the Iranian regime is in its final days and will soon collapse,” said Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, adding "If they attack Tel Aviv, we will attack Tehran."
Liberman suggested Iran is vulnerable on two fronts, economic and military - and that an American withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal would significantly damage the regime's economy during a period in which the Islamic Republic is devoting resources to a military build-up in Syria against the West.
“Iran is trying to establish bases in Syria and arm them with advanced weapons,” Lieberman said. “Every military outpost in Syria in which Iran seems to be trying to dig in militarily, we will destroy.”
Lieberman says that Israel must prevent an Iranian military build-up on their border. “We won’t allow it, whatever the cost,” he said.
Iran has repeatedly hit back against similar rhetoric, threatening to attack Israel directly.
“If you provide an excuse for Iran, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be razed to the ground,” Ali Shirazi, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in mid-April according to the Washington Times.
Meanwhile, Axios reports that Israel has approached Russia several times over the last few weeks with demands that the Kremlin adhere to a cease fire arrangement signed with the U.S. last November, which includes preventing pro-Iranian militias from entering a buffer zone on the Syrian-Israeli border.
The protests show Israel's growing nervousness over the Iranian buildup in Syria. Recent flashpoints between Israel and Russia in Syria are also making it harder for the countries to maintain close coordination.
Israeli officials told me the message has been passed to the Russians by the Israeli ambassador to Moscow, by Israeli defense officials and at a senior political level. -Axios
Axios puts the cease fire deal in context:
- Last November, Russia the U.S. and Jordan signed a cease fire deal in southern Syria which established de-escalation zones on the Syrian-Israeli border and on the Syrian-Jordanian border. As part of the deal, a buffer zone was to be established which Pro-Iranian forces would be excluded from.
- According to the deal, the Russians were the responsible for enforcing the zone. But Israeli officials told me that's not happening at all. They claim pro-Iranian Shiite militias and Hezbollah elements are inside the buffer zone in violation of the deal.
Will Russia rein-in Iranian rabble-rousers in Syria? Will the United States pull out of the Iran oil deal? Find out on the next episode of "not our problem."