Israel Sends Warning to Assad: Keep Iran Out

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel is having its say in the final disposition of forces in the developing ceasefire agreement in Syria, one way or another.

A warning has been sent to President Bashar Al-Assad that if he formally agrees to allow Iranian or Hezbollah forces to remain in the country, Israel will intervene in the civil war, ending its policy of the past six years of staying neutral in the conflict, according to a report Sunday night on Israeli news media.

The message to Assad apparently came in response to discussions with Iran and Russia which aim to exclude from Syria all foreign forces, except by agreement with, or invitation from, Assad. Russia’s presence in Syria is based on such an invitation, and Israel seeks to “to deter Assad from issuing” a similar invitation to Iran.

Until now, Israel has confined itself to retaliation for cross-border fire on the Golan, and interdiction from the air of arms shipments to Hezbollah. But “there was no direct targeting of the Syrian Army or of Assad,” noted a Channel 2 report. That will change if he enters an agreement that allows Iran to establish military bases in Syria.

The Iranians are reportedly seeking “a naval base, possibly for submarines, an air base and arms factories for precision weapons.”

Earlier this month, the BBC, citing a Western security official, said that Iran was building a permanent base on a site used by the Syrian army near el-Kiswah, 8 miles south of Damascus, just 30 miles from the Israeli border. Aerial photos appeared to confirm the report.