Zionist minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman says Tel Aviv will continue to operate freely in Syria after several Israeli attacks on the Arab country, seen as a bid to prop up anti-government Takfiri militants.
Lieberman’s statements come less than a month after Israeli warplanes attacked the T-4 air base in Homs through Lebanese airspace and his threat later to hit S-300 defense systems if Russia gave them to Syria.
“We have no intention to attack Russia or to interfere in domestic Syrian issues,” Lieberman said at the annual Jerusalem Post conference on Sunday. “But if somebody thinks that it is possible to launch missiles or to attack Israel or even our aircraft, no doubt we will respond and we will respond very forcefully.”
Lieberman has said Israel would not accept limitations from Russia or any other country on its “actions” in Syria.
“We will maintain total freedom of action. We will not accept any limitation when it comes to the defense of our … interests,” Lieberman told the Hebrew-language Walla news website.
The Israeli military has launched attacks against various targets inside Syria from time to time, which Damascus believes are aimed at boosting terrorist groups in the face of major gains by the Syrian army.
In his remarks on Sunday, Lieberman also took aim at Iran, saying Israel has three problems: “Iran, Iran, Iran.”
“Iran supports and creates proxies around Israel. Hamas and Islamic Jihad would not survive one week without Iranian support,” he added, referring to the Palestinian resistance movements.
Lieberman also touched upon the prospect that the United States would soon announce its stance on the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and other countries.
“It’s not our business. It is an American decision and they didn’t ask any advice from our side. We understand that they have their ideas and their approach,” he said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem al-Quds on Sunday, saying Washington stands with Tel Aviv against Tehran. He also said the US would quit the nuclear deal if it were not renegotiated.
Netanyahu, whose regime is believed to possess the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, has repeatedly made unfounded accusations that Iran was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
“We think that it is a very, very bad deal which was a huge mistake and from our point of view there is no reason to have this deal,” Lieberman said of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which is the official name of the Iran nuclear accord.
Lieberman met last weekend with several high-ranking US military officials, including Pentagon chief James Mattis. Before his trip to the US, Lieberman told Saudi website Elaph that if Iran attacked Tel Aviv, Israel “will strike Tehran and destroy every Iranian military site that threatens Israel in Syria, whatever the price.”
His threats came after Iran pledged to retaliate for the Israeli attack on the T-4 military base in Syria, which left seven Iranian military advisers dead.