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From Damascus, Iran Vows to Confront Israel

General Mohammad Baqeri also pledged to increase cooperation with the Syrian military to fight Israel and insurgents in Syria, where Iranian forces and Iran-backed militias including Hezbollah have provided critical military support to Damascus.

Reuters

Updated:October 18, 2017, 6:10 PM IST
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From Damascus, Iran Vows to Confront Israel
File photo of Iranian Military Chief of Staff General Mohammad Baqeri . Image: Reuters
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Beirut: Iran's military chief warned Israel against violating Syrian airspace and territory on a visit to Damascus on Wednesday, Iranian state media said, a sign of rising tensions with Israel as it voices concern over Iranian influence in Syria.

General Mohammad Baqeri also pledged to increase cooperation with the Syrian military to fight Israel and insurgents in Syria, where Iranian forces and Iran-backed militias including Hezbollah have provided critical military support to Damascus.

"It's not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate the land and airspace of Syria anytime it wants," Baqeri said in the Syrian capital at a news conference with his Syrian counterpart.

"We are in Damascus to assert and cooperate to confront our common enemies, the Zionists and terrorists," he said, a reference to Israel and Sunni Muslim jihadists including Islamic State. "We drew up the broad lines for this cooperation," Syrian state media cited the Iranian military chief of staff as saying.

Iran's expanding clout during Syria's six-year-long civil war has raised alarm in Israel, which has said it would act against any threat from its regional arch-enemy Tehran.

Israel's air force says it has struck arms convoys of the Syrian military and Hezbollah nearly 100 times during the war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran was strengthening its foothold in Syria and that Israel was watching developments. He said Israel would do whatever it takes to protect its security.

Tensions had risen this year between Lebanon's Hezbollah and Israel, which have avoided a major conflict since 2006.

This week, the Israeli military said it attacked a Syrian anti-aircraft battery that had fired at its planes over Lebanon. But the Syrian army said it hit an Israeli warplane after it breached its airspace at the Syria-Lebanon border.
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