Khamenei aide: Lebanon is Iran’s defense frontline
Former Iranian commander claims victory in Syria and boasts of Iran’s growing influence in Middle East
A senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said over the weekend his country’s first line of defense was now the Lebanese border with Israel.
“Our frontmost line of defense is no more in Shalamcheh [southern Iran], rather this line is now in southern Lebanon [on the border] with Israel, as our strategic depth has now stretched to the Mediterranean coasts and just to the north of Israel,” Yahya Rahim Safavi, who is also a former head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, was quoted by Fars news agency as saying Saturday.
His comments came during a speech to a group of IRGC veterans in the central province of Isfahan, the semi-official outlet reported.
Iran maintains its influence in Lebanon though Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia that is widely regarded as Tehran’s proxy in the region. Hezbollah is also playing a significant role in Syria where its fighters are backing regime troops against Syrian rebels.
During his speech Safavi boasted of Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East and said the West and its allies had failed to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"Certainly, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and the European countries' strategy to overthrow [Syrian President] Bashar Assad has failed and this failure is a strategic failure for the Western, Arab and Zionist [Israeli] front and a great victory for the Islamic Republic of Iran," he said.
Iran is Assad’s primary backer in the region.