Iran Daily: Tehran’s Military Chief Uses Syria Visit to Warn Israel

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Iranian Chief of Staff General Mohammad Bagheri (L) at a press conference in Damascus, Syria, October 18, 2017 (IRNA)

The head of Iran’s military, General Mohammad Baqeri, held discussions with Syria’s Assad regime on Wednesday, warning Israel against further air and missile strikes inside the country.

Baqeri pledged an increase in cooperation with the Assad regime’s military to fight Israel and rebels:

It’s not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate the land and airspace of Syria anytime it wants. We are in Damascus to assert and cooperate to confront our common enemies, the Zionists, and terrorists.

We drew up the broad lines for this cooperation.

Israel has periodically carried out aerial assaults throughout Syria’s 79-month conflict. The raids have tried to stop movements of missiles and weapons to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is fighting along the Assad regime, to destroy stocks in warehouses, and to prevent Iranian and Hezbollah units from setting up positions close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

In January 2015, Israel hit a two-car convoy, killing Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian Revolutionary Guards general, near the demilitarized zone. Since then, there has been no sign of Iran and Hezbollah trying to establish forces in the area.

Earlier this week Israel struck a Syrian anti-aircraft battery that fired at its warplanes — flying over Lebanon, according to the Israelis; over Syria, according to the Assad regime.

Damascus put out its standard statement, without evidence, that it hit an Israeli warplane. However, the regime’s military is relying on SA-5 anti-aircraft missiles that date from the 1960s.

Russia’s advanced S-400 missile systems are deployed elsewhere in the country, and Moscow and the US have declared the area near the Golan Heights a “de-escalation zone”, effectively giving Israel freedom of action to maintain its self-declared line against regime operations.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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