Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday urged Iran to quickly remove its forces from neighboring Syria or face continued attacks on them by Israel.
“Yesterday I heard the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman saying ‘Iran has no military presence in Syria, we only advise them’,” Netanyahu said at a Tel Aviv ceremony to install a new head of Israel’s armed forces.
“So let me advise them -- get out of there fast, because we’ll continue our forceful policy of attacking, as we promised and are doing, fearlessly and relentlessly,” he said.
In a rare public confirmation on Sunday, Netanyahu said Israel had attacked what he described as “Iranian warehouses containing Iranian weapons in the Damascus international airport” over the weekend.
Netanyahu added that Israel had attacked Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria hundreds of times.
Israel has pledged to prevent Iran entrenching itself militarily in Syria, where its arch foe is backing President Bashar al-Assad’s regime alongside Russia and Hezbollah.
At the ceremony for the new chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi, Netanyahu reiterated that Israel’s central security challenge was “Iran and its terror emissaries,” saying the Israeli military had “prevented the military entrenchment of Iran in Syria.”
Tehran denies sending regular troops to fight in Syria, saying it has only provided military advisors and militia fighters from various countries.