Iranian General: Fire Missiles at Israel to Stop Netanyahu Election Campaign

YERUSHALAYIM -
Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. (Sayyed Shahab)

The only way to prevent further Israeli attacks on Iranian assets in Syria is to get rid of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a top Iranian military official has reportedly told his colleagues – and the best way to do that is to fire missiles at targets in central Israel. The report in the Kuwait-based Al Jarida newspaper said that Iranian General Qasem Soleimani made the remarks in Tehran over the weekend, after Israel hit numerous targets in Syria overnight Sunday.

Those targets were largely Iranian assets, with Israel smashing weapons warehouses, runways and army bases used by the Iranians in the Damascus area. Syrian sources said that four people were killed in the operation, while Syrian dissident groups listed the number as 11, with at least several Iranians among those killed. But a senior Syrian journalist on Monday said that at least a dozen Iranians were killed in the operation. Ziad Halaby, quoted in numerous Arab media outlets, said that “dozens” of coffins were loaded onto an Iranian military transport plane that arrived in Damascus on Monday.

The Al Jarida report said that Soleimani visited a Sunni village next to the Golan Heights last Friday, for firsthand observation of the situation. He was apparently not in Syria when Israel conducted its attack on Sunday night. On Monday, he met with senior Iranian military staff, telling them that Iran had received warnings from Russia a half hour before the Israeli attacks – giving Iran time to clear out key personnel from the targets named by Russia. Soleimani told the officials that no Iranians were killed in the raids.

The report quoted Soleimani as telling officials that Iran needed to fire three missiles at Israel for every one Israel fired at Syria, and that he and other Iranian military officials were urging Syria to fire missiles at Israel in response to the Israeli attacks. With Israel admitting it was behind the attack, Syria had a right to do so under international law, he told the officials. Retaliation was essential before April – when the Israeli elections are to take place. As part of his campaign for another another term as prime minister, “Netanyahu will continue to raise tensions until he wins the election,” and Iran should try to foil that with an attack on Israel. “We must let the Russians know that Iran has no red lines,” the report quoted Soleimani as saying.