Danon Warns Security Council of 80,000 Iranian Recruits in Syria

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks during a recent Security Council meeting on the situation in the Mideast. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon again sought to arouse the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to the perils of Iranian military adventurism in Syria, warning of large ground forces threatening Israel and the region.

“There are over 80,000 extremists from all over the Middle East who are members of Shia militias in Syria under Iranian control,” Danon told the council, aided by a satellite image of what appeared to be a military installation in the mountains northwest of Syria’s capital Damascus.

The base serves as “Iran’s central induction and recruitment center in Syria,” Danon asserted. “It is at this base, just over five miles from Damascus, where these dangerous extremists are trained and then assigned their missions of terror throughout Syria and the region,” he said, the first time Israel has publicized this particular site.

The image was labeled “Iranian Garrison on the Road to Lebanon,” with arrows indicating its location 5.5 miles to Damascus and 12 miles to the Lebanon border-crossing.

In his speech, Danon addressed the broader issues of regional security. Noting that May 12 deadline by which President Donald Trump must decide if the United States will remain part of the Iran nuclear deal, he said:

“President Trump is focused on these important changes, because he knows it will make the world safer. All the signatories of this agreement must now make a choice: Do you support these necessary changes? Or will you choose to enable the Iranian regime that supports terror and is attempting to take over the Middle East?” Danon said.

He reaffirmed that “Israel has a very clear policy and it has been so since the administration of Prime Minister Menachem Begin. We will not allow regimes that seek our destruction to acquire nuclear weapons. Period,” he said.

Regarding violent protests along the Gaza border, in which 40 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds of others injured, according to the Hamas-run health ministry and quoted by the U.N. on Wednesday:

“Israel has an obligation to protect our citizens, and we will do so while minimizing civilian casualties to the other side. But let me be clear: Israel will never apologize for defending our country,” the ambassador said.

“It is Hamas that is fully responsible for every Palestinian injury and death that has resulted from these incidents,” he added.