Ali Jaffari, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said Saturday that Iran would intervene in a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Jaffari made the threat in a speech in Tehran, saying that while Iran had not done so in the past, it would intervene, “and our actions will bring to an end the Zionist entity.” Iran had previously said last Thursday that it would keep its troops in Syria, despite the fact that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has declared victory over Islamic State.
A recent report said that Iran was building a permanent military base in southern Syria. The base is being built at a site near the town of El-Kiswah, 14 kilometers (8 miles) south of Damascus and about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Israel-Syria border on the Golan Heights. The report was based on intelligence from “Western security sources,” the report said. In satellite images published by the BBC, several buildings that appear to be storage facilities – for vehicles or weapons – are seen along a staging ground, with other buildings, one of them appearing to be a headquarters, adjacent. According to the images, construction is at an advanced stage.
Iran’s threat comes on the background of claims by Hezbollah that Israel is preparing to attack it. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah earlier this month said that Israel was involved in the recent spate between Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudis, he said, had paid Israel billions of dollars to attack Lebanon. “This is not speculation, but based on facts,” said Nasrallah. With that, Israel would think twice about the Saudi deal, given that the price it would pay would be “very high.” Still, Israel was doing all it could to destabilize Lebanon, undertaking actions such as funding groups that seek to unseat Bashar al-Assad as president of Syria. “Israel is trying to start a civil war,” Nasrallah said. “Let them not think we are confused or afraid. We are stronger today than ever.”
Last weekend, Hezbollah raised its security caution to the highest level possible, over concern that it could be attacked. A report in the Lebanese daily A-Re’i said that the terror group was concerned that an attack could come from any number of sources, with Israel a prime possibility. The report said that Hezbollah has temporarily halted shipment of weapons from Iran to south Lebanon via Syria. The report added that Hezbollah is no longer storing its weapons in south Lebanon, but in Syria, as the borders between southern Syria and Lebanon are now porous.