Iran commander warns ‘other actors’ could join war if Israel continues Gaza attacks

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Iran’s top military commander on Thursday warned that the ongoing Israeli attacks against Gaza could lead to the involvement of other parties in the conflict.

“The continuation of the crimes of the Zionist regime, along with direct support and aid from certain countries, has made the situation more complicated and can draw other actors into this conflict,” Iranian state media quoted Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, as telling Russia’s defense minister in a phone call.

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Bagheri called for immediate international action to halt Israel’s “crimes” and provide aid to the people of Gaza.

In a separate phone call with Qatar’s defense minister, Bagheri warned that if Israeli “brutalities” do not stop, “there is a possibility of any reaction from the resistance groups.”

Iran commonly uses terms like “resistance forces,” “resistance groups,” “resistance front,” and “resistance axis” to refer to a network of regional militant groups that it supports. This network includes organizations like the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, as well as various militias in Iraq and Syria, and the Houthi militia in Yemen.

In his call with the Qatari defense minister, Bagheri urged regional countries to prevent the transfer of weapons and equipment from US bases in the Middle East to the “occupied territories.”

Qatar, which has good relations with both Hamas and Iran, is home to Al Udeid Air Base, the largest US military base in the Middle East.

The latest escalation began when Hamas militants crossed into Israel from its southern border on October 7, killing more than 1,400 people. In response, Israel has targeted Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip, killing more than 3,700 people.

Tehran, a key source of financial and military support for Hamas, praised the October 7 Hamas attack while denying any involvement in its planning or execution.

Israel has long accused Iran of exacerbating violence by supplying arms to Hamas. Tehran refuses to recognize Israel and has made support for the Palestinian cause a fundamental component of its foreign policy since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

For years, Iran and Israel have engaged in a covert conflict, with Iran accusing Israel of orchestrating sabotage attacks and assassinations targeting its nuclear program.

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