Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Sunday that Iran was expanding its regional influence in Syria.
Netanyahu said the government was briefed by Mossad Director Yossi Cohen on the security challenges Israel faces. “I’ll give you a summary in one sentence—ISIS going out, Iran coming in. Simple. We’re mostly talking about Syria,” he said.
“Our policy is clear: We firmly oppose to the military buildup of Iran and its proxies, primarily Hezbollah, in Syria. And we will do whatever it takes to protect Israel’s security,” the Israeli PM said.
“We are protecting the country and its borders. We are bolstering the IDF—strengthening security forces all the time—to ensure security. We know that in order to build this country, we must protect it. That’s the top priority,” Netanyahu said.
In his briefing to the government ministers earlier in the day, Mossad Director Cohen said Iran was filling the vacuum left by ISIS as it loses its hold on territories in Syria and Iraq.
Iran, Cohen elaborated, was expanding its influence both directly through Iranian forces and via local proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Cohen also told the ministers Tehran had not given up on its goal of becoming a nuclear threshold state, and that the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers helped Iran get closer to its goal and emboldened it in its regional aggression. He pointed out that since the nuclear deal was signed, Iran’s economy has grown.
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