Israel will “eliminate” Syrian President Bashar Assad if he continues to let Iran operate from Syria, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said Monday.
Steinitz told Israeli news site ynet that Assad needs to know it will be his end if he allows Iran to turn Syria into military base in order to attack Israel.
“It’s unacceptable that Assad sits quietly in his palace and rebuild his regime while allowing Syria to be turned into a base for attacks on Israel,” he said. Steinitz later clarified his comments reflect his personal opinions.
Israeli defense officials are bracing for the possibility of an Iranian revenge attack from Syria in the near future, in the form of rocket and missile launches at northern Israel.
Officials believe Iran is determined to retaliate for the April 9 airstrike on Syria’s T4 airbase, which killed seven Iranian military advisers and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Iran blames Israel for this attack.
Israel’s assessment is that Iran seeks to settle its open account with Israel, but wants to do so without sparking a war. One possible solution to this dilemma is trying to fire a limited barrage at military targets in northern Israel.
Israel is taking various protective measures against any possible missile fire. Defense sources said Israel’s anti-missile systems are prepared to deal with rocket fire.