Israel has “eyes, ears and more” on the ground in Iran, Mossad head Yossi Cohen said Tuesday in a closed security forum Tuesday morning. “The Iranians are edging closer and closer to the Middle East, with many forces,” Cohen told Finance Ministry officials in a briefing on the security situation. “We have eyes and ears in Iran,” he said, without specifying.
Iran in recent weeks has attempted to move troops close to Israel’s border with Syria on the Golan Heights, and Israeli planes, according to foreign news reports, have been carrying out attacks to prevent the establishment of an Iranian presence in the area – the latest one just Tuesday morning, according to Syrian sources, which said that Israeli planes and missiles targeted an area north of Damascus. No details were provided on the targets, and Israel had no comment on the report.
Israel has numerous times pledged to prevent Syrian territory being used for Iran to set up bases or transfer high-quality weaponry to Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group, which has been helping Damascus beat back a six-year-old rebellion.
Iran has numerous advisers in Syria who are working with Syrian Army units, who have been slowly but methodically expanding their sphere of influence to the Israeli border, said Cohen.
“The Syrian Army says that it has established a presence on the edge of the Syrian side of the Hermon, very close to the last stronghold of rebels against the government south of Damascus. The army is being assisted by Shi’ite militias, as well as Hezbollah terrorists, who played an important role in the recent advances,” he said.
Despite the current unrest in Iran, the country is doing much better now economically than it had been before it signed the deal with the U.S. and other countries in 2015, in which it agreed to suspend its nuclear enrichment program. Cohen said that the Iranian economy “has flowered and grown since then. This is not necessarily helping the average citizen, however,” he said, explaining the massive protests against the government there. “The protesters face very substantial opposition, who are ready to violently put down opponents.”
The Associated Press on Tuesday quoted Iranian parliamentarian Mahmoud Sadeghi of Tehran as saying that some 3,700 people had been arrested in recent days in the protests. The figure, if correct, is substantially higher than the “hundreds” the Iranian government has claimed were arrested. Iranian authorities have said that the protests are waning. In recent days, government supporters have held several mass rallies across the country to protest the unrest, the report added.