Israel will keep up its operations in Syria until Iran leaves, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday after strikes on Iran-backed fighters left 14 dead.
Bennett, speaking to the state-owned Kan 11 television news channel, did not claim Israeli responsibility for the latest overnight strikes on Syria.
But he said: “Iran has nothing to do in Syria… (and) we won’t stop before they leave Syria”.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes came minutes after Syrian air defenses intercepted Israeli air raids over the north of the country.
A spokesman for the US-led coalition battling ISIS said it was not responsible for the raids in the desert near the eastern Syrian town of Mayadin.
Bennett said Iran was “trying to establish itself on the border with Israel to threaten Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa”.
“They have to leave Syria,” Bennett said.
“This is our life we are talking about, the life of our children, and if we allowed them to settle in Syria… in a year we will wake up with 10,000 missiles, 20,000 missiles, that would put us in danger.
“For them it’s an adventure, they are 1,000 kilometers away… it’s their Vietnam in a way,” Bennett said.
The Israeli defense minister said Iran should be more concerned with its own citizens and mounting domestic problems.
“They have enough problems at home with the coronavirus (and) the collapsing economy,” he was quoted as saying by Agence France Presse.
Iran on Tuesday announced that confirmed coronavirus infections had reached almost 100,000 while the overall death toll from COVID-19 topped 6,000.
Iran is facing economic hardship that worsened after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear clear and reimposed unilateral sanctions on Tehran in 2018, targeting key oil and banking sectors.
Bennett said Iran had become a “burden” for the Assad regime.
“It used to be an asset for the Syrians, it helped Assad deal with ISIS, but now it’s a burden,” he said.
The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.