By Ben Caspit, JPost—
“If the Iranians act against Israel from Syrian territory, Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime will be those that pay the price.”
That is the clear message from senior officials in the Israeli defense establishment and IDF after the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called a strike on the Syrian T-4 air base “Israel’s crime” and said the alleged act would “not remain without response.”
“Assad’s regime and Assad himself will disappear from the map and the world if the Iranians do try to harm Israel or its interests from Syrian territory,” said senior officials in the defense establishment.
“Our recommendation to Iran is that it does not try to act, because Israel is determined to continue on this issue to the very end,” the officials said.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Tuesday that Israel will take all necessary steps to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military base in Syria.
“No matter what the price, we will not allow Iran to have a permanent foothold in Syria. We have no other choice,” said Liberman.
Expanding on Liberman’s comments, security officials believe that Iran may try to retaliate to the alleged Israeli attack, either with Iranian weapons transported into Syria from Iran or by “borrowing” Syrian army systems.
Officials do not believe that direct conflict between Israel, Iran and Syria will necessarily draw Lebanese militant group Hezbollah into the conflict.
“We hope that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah will not join and be drawn into the campaign if it breaks out,” senior security officials told The Jerusalem Post’s sister newspaper Maariv on Tuesday.
“We have no interest in widening the front but, should it happen, Nasrallah needs to understand that his fate will be no different from the fate of Assad and he will pay a very heavy price.”
Israeli officials were said to be confident Tuesday that US President Donald Trump intended to stand by his comments referring to a possible American strike in Syria, in response to another use of chemical weaponry by Assad’s forces against his own citizens.