Flashpoint / Global 12 November 2019 Golan Heights and South/West Syria Share Facebook Twitter Email Print Back To Map I. Why it Matters Israel’s primary interest in Syria is to prevent a strategic Iranian military presence across Syria, including Iranian construction of military infrastructure and cultivation of local partner forces. Since late 2017 it has targeted Iranian assets in Syria at an increasing pace. These attacks have drawn retaliation, including by Iran, creating the risk that a spiral of escalation will lead to open war between Israel and Iran, which could spill over into Lebanon. In Syria’s south west specifically, Israel has sought to keep Iranian and Iranian-linked forces away from the Golan armistice line, and the risk of Israeli military strikes triggering a broader escalation stands out as the most consequential uncertainty in an attempt by the Assad regime to retake the area from rebel groups. II. Recent Developments 12 November 2019 Syria media reported that Israeli aircraft had “fired three missiles towards Damascus city”, purportedly targeting a Palestinian Islamic Jihad official. Prime Minister Netanyahu also confirmed that the Israeli military had “targeted senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata”, whom Netanyahu described as “a ticking bomb”, in Gaza. He added that “whoever thinks that it is possible to hurt our citizens and evade our long arm is mistaken. We have proven that we can attack with surgical precision anywhere terrorists hide. Whoever hurts us – we will hurt them”. View More 6 November 2019 Israeli President Reuven Rivlin contended that “Iran continues to spread terror throughout the region. It continues to build military bases and plan attacks from Syria, and other parts of the region, Lebanon and even Yemen”. “Our enemies”, he added, “must know the state of Israel will do everything needed to defend its citizens”. View More 5 November 2019 A senior IDF official remarked that “there are Iranian Qods forces in the Golan Heights, and that’s not fear-mongering, they’re there”. He added that “all signs indicate that… 2020 has the potential to be an unfavourable year from a security perspective”. Referring to the 14 September attack against Saudi oil facilities, he opined that “it was a sophisticated attack that managed to evade both U.S. and Saudi defences… whoever says that it can’t happen to us isn’t a professional”. View More 5 November 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that “Iran expands its aggression. It seeks to envelop Israel. It seeks to threaten Israel. It seeks to destroy Israel. We fight back”. He further asserted that “given Iran’s efforts to expand its nuclear weapons program, expand its enrichment of uranium for making atomic bombs, I repeat… we will never let Iran develop nuclear weapons. This is not only for our security and our future, it’s for the future of the Middle East and the world”. View More 3 November 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasised that “the most important thing is to make sure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons and that its march towards empire and conquest is stopped. I think that President Trump’s policy of putting maximum economic pressure on Iran is the right one, and I’m glad to see that it’s been increased recently, more sanctions”. “I know that it’s having a telling effect on Iran’s ability to fund its aggression”, Netanyahu added. He went on to say that “we are committed to preventing Iran from entrenching itself militarily in our borders, especially in Syria. And we take the necessary action to prevent that… because if Iran has its way, then the Middle East will collapse”. He went on to argue that “if Israel wasn’t here in the heart of the Middle East, then Iran would have won. And by [the] way, would have already had nuclear weapons”. View More 1 November 2019 The U.S. State Department in its Country Reports on Terrorism 2018 evaluated that “Hizbollah remained Iran’s most powerful terrorist partner and the most capable terrorist organisation in Lebanon, controlling areas across the country”. It went on to assess that “Iran’s annual financial backing to Hizbollah, an estimated $700 million per year, accounts for the overwhelming majority of the group’s annual budget. Hizbollah’s presence in Lebanon and Syria continued to pose a threat to Israel”. “Israeli security officials and politicians”, the report noted, “expressed concerns that Iran was supplying Hizbollah with advanced weapons systems and technologies, as well as assisting the group in creating infrastructure that would permit it to indigenously produce rockets and missiles to threaten Israel from Lebanon and Syria”. View More 31 October 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that “the area around us is stormy and restive. Threats lurk in every corner – in Syria, in Lebanon, in the Gaza Strip, as well as in Iraq, Yemen and directly in Iran. Where not? Iranian and pro-Iranian forces are relentlessly arming themselves”. He went on to assert that “we are prepared for the threats and will not hesitate to strike harshly at anyone who tries to attack us. Iran’s threshold of daring in the region is rising and it grows even more in the absence of a response. However, Israel will not turn the other cheek. Whoever is bent on aggression – will meet with a vigorous response, and will pay a heavy price”. View More 30 October 2019 A senior Israeli defence official assessed that “the security challenge is becoming more complex. In addition to the missiles and rockets, there are also attack drones and cruise missiles now”. He added that “as we speak, Arrow, Patriot, David's Sling, and Iron Dome batteries are ready for battle”. View More 28 October 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu contended that “Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons. It’s transgressing on its agreement and commitment. Iran wants to develop precision guided missiles that can hit any target in Israel within five to ten meters. It’s doing that. Iran wants to use Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen as bases to attack Israel with statistical missiles and precision-guided missiles.” He went on to assert that “to ward off this danger… you have to be strong militarily. And to be strong militarily, we have to shift now money from the civilian areas to the military areas”. View More 28 October 2019 Speaking alongside U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Prime Minister Netanyahu argued that “Iran is seeking to develop now precision-guided munitions, missiles that can hit any target in the Middle East with a circumference of five to ten metres. They are developing this in Iran. They want to place them in Iraq and in Syria, and to convert Lebanon’s arsenal of 130,000 statistical rockets to precision-guided munitions. They seek also to develop that, and have already begun to put that in Yemen, with the goal of reaching Israel from there, too”. He further asserted that “Iran is the single greatest threat to stability and peace in the Middle East”, and urged Mnuchin “to put even more” sanctions on Iran. View More 18 October 2019 U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo met with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem and discussed “all the efforts we’ve made to push back against the threat not only to Israel, but to the region and the world, from the Islamic Republic of Iran”. View More 10 October 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that “the current focus of aggression in the Middle East is the Iranian regime in Tehran. Iran is striving to tighten its grip in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Gaza Strip”. “It is relentlessly arming itself”, Netanyahu continued. “It is equipping its proxies with dangerous weaponry. It is attacking freedom of navigation in international shipping lanes. It downed a large American UAV. It mounted a crude and unprecedented attack on Saudi oil fields. It has repeatedly crossed its threshold of brazenness… it has tried to attack us repeatedly; therefore, we must stand ready to defend ourselves against danger”. He further asserted that the Israeli military “is prepared to pre-empt any threat, defensively and offensively, with crushing strength, in weaponry and in spirit”. View More 9 October 2019 Secretary of State Pompeo stated that “oil from the Adrian Darya 1 has been offloaded in Syria, proving that Iran lied to the UK and Gibraltar. This terrorist oil will fund Assad’s war and Iran’s sectarian violence”. He further asserted that “EU members should condemn this action, uphold the rule of law and hold Iran accountable”. View More 3 October 2019 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked that “we face a huge security challenge, which is growing week to week and strengthening in the last month to two months... Anyone with eyes in their head sees that Iran is increasingly arming itself, Iran is growing stronger. Its boldness, its audacity are on the rise”. He went on to assert that Iran “says in the clearest way, that is what their generals said, including two days ago, ‘Israel will disappear. This is not a theory. Israel will disappear’... They believe this. They are striving for this, and we need to take them seriously”. Netanyahu added that “this reality obligates us to become stronger. It obligates us to arm ourselves, our fighters and our soldiers, with defensive and offensive weapons on a scale, at an intensity and quality we have not had until now”. View More 1 October 2019 Secretary of State Pompeo asserted that "despite Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif's promise to the UK that the Adrian Darya 1 would not deliver oil to Syria, it is now transferring oil off the Syrian coast". He went on to ask: "Will the world hold Iran accountable if this oil is delivered to Syria?" View More 26 September 2019 The U.S. Department of Treasury issued sanctions against “one entity, three individuals and five vessels participating in a sanctions evasion scheme to facilitate the delivery of jet fuel to Russian forces operating in Syria”. In related comments, Secretary of State Pompeo stated that “the U.S. has concluded that the Assad regime used chlorine as a chemical weapon on May 19th in an attack at Latakia province, Syria… the U.S. will not allow these attacks to go unchallenged, nor will we tolerate those who choose to conceal these atrocities”. View More 26 September 2019 Secretary of State Pompeo stated that “the U.S. supports UN efforts to end military violence in Syria. Ongoing violence - fuelled by Iran and Russia - is exacerbating Syria’s dire humanitarian situation and must cease for a political solution to take root”. View More 25 September 2019 President Rouhani posited that “we are not looking for war and killing others, but it is Israel that has repeatedly violated the sovereignty of its neighbours and, according to their own Prime Minister, they have carried out acts of aggression against Syria more than 200 times”. He added that “these acts are very dangerous and according to the UN Charter, the people of the region have the right to self-defence”. View More 24 September 2019 Referring to the 14 September attacks against Saudi energy facilities, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that “very simply: Iran did it. A to Z”. He added that “Israel will know to defend itself against this type of aggression. And we call on all members of the international community to join President Trump's effort to increase the pressure on Iran. That's the only way to stop Iran's aggression”. View More 18 September 2019 Iran’s President Rouhani remarked that “it is strange that the enemies of the region have not yet understood the power of the regional nations’ resistance… instead of admitting that Lebanon’s Hizbollah has high capabilities and power both in scientific and military knowledge and bravery in the field, or that a part of brave young people of Iraq have liberated different cities across the country from the hands of terrorists, and instead of admitting to the growth and greatness of nations like Syria and Yemen, they are seeking to accuse others”. View More 16 September 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated that he and President Trump had “agreed to advance a historic defensive alliance between the U.S. and Israel at our upcoming meeting at the UN General Assembly”. “This is historic”, Netanyahu explained, “because it adds a powerful component of deterrence against our enemies, alongside maintaining the ability to act, and freedom of action, of our forces”. View More 16 September 2019 President Rouhani stated that Israel “has increased the number of its acts of aggression on the Syrian soil in recent months, and its officials have claimed responsibility for the aggressions and have extended their attacks to Iraq and Lebanon”. He further asserted that “these attacks are a clear example of provocative and illegal hostile acts that can cause widespread tension and conflict in the region”. View More 16 September 2019 President Rouhani remarked that “there is only a political solution to the Syrian crisis, and this can only be achieved through constructive interaction and participation by all Syrian people”. He further argued that “U.S. troops must leave the area as soon as possible and that the Syrian government's control must expand in the east and north of the Euphrates, as in the rest of Syria”. View More 12 September 2019 Following a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that “the first issue is security, and this is maintaining freedom of action for the IDF, including the air force, in the face of Iran’s attempts to military entrench in our region against us. We are operating constantly and is important to prevent unnecessary collisions”. Netanyahu subsequently met with President Putin, remarking that “security coordination between us is always important but it is especially important at this time because last month saw a very serious upsurge in the number of attempts by Iran to attack Israel from Syrian territory, and also to place precision missiles there against us”. “From our point-of-view”, Netanyahu continued, “this is an intolerable threat and we are taking action; therefore, we must also ensure that the coordination between us prevents friction”. View More 12 September 2019 The U.S. State Department's spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, stated that “we have seen reports that the Iranian vessel Adrian Darya, formally Grace 1, remains anchored off the shores of Syria, which we’ve been saying was its intended destination all along. Now we’ve seen firsthand the Iranian regime renege on its assurances to the EU that the vessel would not transport oil to the murderous Assad regime”. Ortagus added that “this fits into the web of lies perpetrated by the Iranian regime for 40 years”, further noting that “despite the revolutionary promises of a better society, the thugs in Tehran have consistently repressed women, minorities and human rights advocates”. View More 12 September 2019 En route to a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that “at this time, we are operating on several fronts, 360 degrees, in order to ensure the security of Israel in the face of the attempts of Iran and its proxies to attack us, and we are working against them. The Syrian arena is the main one… it is important that we continue to maintain freedom of action for the IDF, including the air force, against Iranian, Hizbollah and other terrorist targets”. Netanyahu added that “this trip is designed to continue this important cooperation, which prevents collisions between us and the Russian forces, and to continue to advance the common goal that we agree on, which has yet to be achieved and which is far from being achieved, and that is the withdrawal of Iran from Syria”. View More 10 September 2019 National Security Advisor John Bolton asserted that “now that we’re two weeks from the UN General Assembly, you can be sure Iran is working overtime on deception. Let’s review the greatest hits, starting with the most recent. Iran denied the Adrian Darya 1 was headed to Syria, then confirmed today its oil was offloaded there”. View More 9 September 2019 The Israeli military announced that “a number of rockets were fired from Syria toward Israel overnight, all failing to hit Israeli territory”. It further asserted that “the rockets were launched by Shiite militias operating under the command of the Iranian Quds force. We hold the Syrian regime responsible for events taking place in Syria”. View More 8 September 2019 Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson announced that “the Adrian Darya oil tanker finally docked on the Mediterranean coast and unloaded its cargo despite acts of sabotage by the U.S.”. He further underscored that “we had already announced that we would sell our oil in any way and that acts of sabotage would not affect our plans”. View More 6 September 2019 U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted imagery showing the Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya-1 off the Syrian coast and stated that “anyone who said the Adrian Darya 1 wasn’t headed to Syria is in denial. Tehran thinks it’s more important to fund the murderous Assad regime than provide for its own people”. He contended that “we can talk, but Iran’s not getting any sanctions relief until it stops lying and spreading terror!” View More 6 September 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that “I had an important meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defence Esper. We discussed the entire region from Iran, to Syria, Lebanon, Hizbollah and the various challenges and attacks against us, actions we took to thwart them, coordination we are called upon to make especially regarding Syria”. View More 5 September 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that “this morning we were informed of another violation, more defiance, by Iran, this time in its striving to attain nuclear weapons. This joins Iran’s aggressive acts against international shipping and against countries in the region, as well as its efforts to carry out murderous attacks against the State of Israel, efforts that have not ceased”. He further asserted that “this is not the time to hold talks with Iran; this is the time to increase the pressure on Iran”. View More 4 September 2019 The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned “a large shipping network that is directed by and financially supports the IRGC Qods force and its terrorist proxy Hizbollah”. Secretary of State Pompeo commented that “maximum pressure continues… the Iranian regime funds the murderous Assad and terrorist proxies like Hizballah through its illicit oil sales. We’ll continue to deny Iran the resources it needs to destabilise the Middle East”. View More 3 September 2019 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu commended “remarks by the foreign ministers of Bahrain and the UAE against Hizbollah’s aggression”, and praised the U.S. for imposing sanctions against “the bank that provides Hizbollah with most of its funds”. He further remarked that “I defined three main goals for the IDF and the security arms in the following order: First of all, to stop and prevent the Iranian nuclear project. Second, to prevent Iran from supplying our enemies and its proxies, such as Hizbollah and others, with precision weapons that endanger us. And third, to prevent Iran and its proxies from entrenching on our borders”. Netanyahu added that “in effect, we are acting vis-à-vis all of these goals, in part openly and a considerable part covertly. We are determined to maintain the security of Israel”. View More 2 September 2019 One day after the Israeli military and Hizbollah exchanged fire, Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that “we acted yesterday with determination and responsibility. We maintained the security of our citizens and the safety of our soldiers. The man in the bunker in Beirut [i.e. Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah] knows exactly why he is in a bunker”. Netanyahu added that “we will continue to do everything necessary in order to maintain the security of Israel – on land and sea, and in the air, and we will continue to act against the threat of precision-guided missiles”. In remarks the same day, Nasrallah contended that “we’ve punished the enemy” and suggested “the start of a new stage of the situation at the border”. He went on to say that “we have a new target, which is the Israeli drones… we will confront these drones in the Lebanese skies”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson condemned what he described as Israel’s “blatant breach” of Lebanese sovereignty. View More 31 August 2019 President Rouhani spoke by phone with his French counterpart and asserted that “if Europe cannot put its commitments into operation, Iran will take the third step in reducing its JCPOA commitments, which of course will be reversible”. He additionally underscored “that the continuation of negotiations for settling problems is the right decision and we need to continue along this path until we reach a desired point”. Rouhani also told Macron that “the leaders of the Zionist regime [i.e. Israel] have made countless miscalculations towards other countries like Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, and they are announcing their acts of aggression proudly instead of apologising”. View More 30 August 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu told French President Macron that “Israel would defend itself against aggression against it and prevent its enemies who seek its destruction from arming themselves with lethal weaponry”. He further noted that “those who provide shelter for aggression and arming will not be immune. Netanyahu also advised Macron that “the present – when Iran is stepping up its aggression in the region – is precisely the wrong time to talk with Iran”. View More 30 August 2019 The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned “Adrian Darya 1, an oil tanker transporting 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil ultimately benefitting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force”, as well as its captain. Secretary of State Pompeo advised that “any who would consider supporting the IRGC should heed this warning”, adding that “non-U.S. persons who knowingly provide significant goods, services, or support to the individuals and entities designated today may themselves face sanctions consequences”. Pompeo also indicated that “the U.S. will continue to increase pressure on the Iranian regime until it changes its behaviour”. National Security Advisor John Bolton commented that “sanctions are serious, and so is captaining a vessel engaged in illicit activity. Let this be a lesson to anyone tempted to support moving Iranian oil destined for Assad’s murderous regime”. On 31 August Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif contended that the “U.S. engages in piracy and threats to prevent Iran from selling oil to traditional customers”. “Stop nagging Secretary Pompeo”, Zarif added. “We will sell oil to any and all buyers”. View More 27 August 2019 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that “I heard [Hizbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah’s remarks. I suggest that Nasrallah relax. He knows very well that the State of Israel knows how to defend itself and how to pay back its enemies”. Netanyahu continued by saying that “I want to tell him and the Lebanese state, which is sheltering this organisation that aspires to destroy us, and I also say this to [Qods force commander] Qassem Soleimani: Be careful with your words and be even more careful with your actions”. View More 26 August 2019 Lebanese media claimed that Israel “last night executed three air raids that targeted the anti-Lebanon region… in central Bekaa, where military outposts for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine under the command of Ahmed Jebril are located”. View More 26 August 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that “Iran is operating on a broad front to carry out murderous terrorist attacks against the State of Israel. Israel will continue to defend its security however that may be necessary”. He also urged “the international community to act immediately so that Iran halts these attacks”. View More 25 August 2019 U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed Israel’s 24 August strikes in Syria, with Pompeo extending “support for Israel’s right to defend itself from threats posed by the IRGC and to take action to prevent imminent attacks against Israeli assets in the region”. The two also “discussed how Iran is leveraging its foothold in Syria to threaten Israel and its neighbours”, while Netanyahu “noted that Israel would strike IRGC targets threatening Israel, wherever they are located”. View More 24 August 2019 The Israeli military announced that it had “prevented a pending, large-scale attack of multiple killer drones on Israel by striking Iranian Quds force operatives and Shiite militia targets in Syria”. Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that “Iran’s Quds force dispatched a special unit of Shiite militants to Syria in order to kill Israelis on the Golan Heights with explosives-laden UAVs… this was an initiative of Iran, under the command of Iran, at the behest of Iran”. He went on indicate that “henceforth we will expose any attempt by Iran to attack us and any Iranian effort to hide behind this or that excuse”. “I would like to stress that we will not tolerate aggression against Israel from any country in the region”, Netanyahu added. “any country that allows its territory to be used to aggression against Israel will face the consequences”. View More 23 August 2019 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated that “I don’t grant Iran immunity anywhere. Iran is a state, a power, that has sworn to annihilate Israel. It’s trying to establish bases against us everywhere. In Iran itself, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen”. Netanyahu went on to say that “we’re acting not only if necessary, we’re acting in very many theatres against a state that seeks to annihilate us. Obviously I’ve given the security forces the order and the operation freedom to do what is necessary in order to disrupt these plots by Iran”. View More 19 August 2019 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated that “Iran has no immunity, anywhere… we will act – and currently are acting – against them, wherever it is necessary”. View More 15 August 2019 Syrian state media reported that “Syrian air defences intercepted a hostile target coming from [the] north of Lebanon, and destroyed it before reaching its target” in Hama province. View More 1 August 2019 Syrian state media reported that Israel had “launched an assault with a rocket… in the western countryside of Quneitra province, causing material damage only”. Relatedly, Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that “on the northern front we are acting against Iran and Hizbollah and you are hearing about this these days as well. This is the iron wall”. View More 24 July 2019 Syrian state media reported that Israel had launched strikes in south-western Syria; no casualties was reported. View More 23 July 2019 At a meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Prime Minster Netanyahu asserted that U.S. “sanctions have begun to work, and it’s important that they continue to work”. “It’s important to keep up the pressure”, Netanyahu added. “If I had to say what are the three things that we have to do in the face of Iranian aggression, it is pressure, pressure and more pressure to force Iran to abandon its nuclear and regional ambitions”. He went on to state that “we cannot allow Iran to disrupt the flow of oil in international waters, and again, I think the first requirement is the application of still greater pressure on Iran. I would not show any hesitation. I’m a leader who’s shown judicious use of force, and I think in this case, the judicious use of pressure is what is required”. View More 23 July 2019 Prime Minister Netahyahu contended that “without Israel, without the things that we do and the things that we stand for and the things that we protect, I think the entire Middle East would collapse to the forces of Islamic radicalism, whether Shiite led by Iran or Sunni radicalism led by ISIS”. View More 18 July 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that “In Operation Northern Shield, we neutralised the terrorist tunnels that Hizbollah had dug into our territory over the years. I do not want to expand here on the other actions that we are taking. The surprise will come in its time. We do not rejoice in war, but if it is forced on us we will strike the enemy decisively”. Netanyahu added that “we are working without respite to thwart Iran’s efforts to channel funds and weapons to Hizbollah…without the Iranian oxygen pipeline, Hizbollah could not exist for very long.”. He went on to say that “if we have to stand alone against Iran and its proxies – we will do so. Thus we have acted in Syria in order to prevent Iranian forces from entrenching themselves there. We will not allow a second Lebanon in Syria”. “The principle that has guided my government is simple”, Netanyahu asserted. “Whoever rises up to kill you, prevent him from arming himself, especially with advanced, equilibrium-changing weapons”. View More 13 July 2019 Foreign Minister Zarif told UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt that “the UK government must immediately make the necessary arrangements to end the illegal confiscation of the Iranian oil tanker” detained off the coast of Gibraltar on 4 July. He went on to say “Iran will keep exporting oil under any circumstances”. Hunt stated that “our concern has always been destination, not origin of the oil” adding that the tanker could be released “if we received sufficient guarantees that it would not be going to Syria”. View More 10 July 2019 The U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, posited that “the oil sanctions alone are going to deny the Iranian regime $50 billion in revenue annually… pressure is going to continue. This is not sustainable for the Iranian regime”. Hook went on to say that “we think a final deal needs to address the entire range of threats that Iran presents to peace and security. Not only in the Middle East but in most continents of the world where they've conducted terrorist attacks either directly or through Hizbollah”. He also asserted that “right now, there are no back-channel talks between the U.S. and Iran”. View More 10 July 2019 Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri described recent U.S. sanctions against Hizbollah political and security figures as indicating a “new course”, but added that “this will not affect parliament or the work that we do both in parliament and in the Council of Ministers”. He went to say that “it is important that we preserve the banking sector and the Lebanese economy and God willing, this crisis will pass sooner or later”. View More 9 July 2019 Speaking against the backdrop of an F-35 during a visit to a military base, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that “recently, Iran has been threatening the destruction of Israel. It would do well to remember that these planes can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and certainly Syria”. Speaking a few days later, Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami warned that "enemies’ aggression against Iran’s territorial integrity, at any level, will receive a severe response”. View More 8 July 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke by phone with his Russian President Vladimir Putin, discussing “Iran, Syria and bilateral relations”. View More 4 July 2019 A tanker bearing Iranian crude was seized off Gibraltar, purportedly after the U.S. had called for its detention. A Gibraltarian official stated that “this action arose from information giving the Gibraltar government reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel, the Grace 1, was acting in breach of EU sanctions against Syria”. National Security Advisor John Bolton described the detention as “excellent news”, adding that the U.S. “and our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran and Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade”. A senior Iranian official subsequently warned that “if Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities’ duty to seize a British oil tanker”; Tehran also insisted that the vessel was not bound for Syria. View More 2 July 2019 Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz remarked that “Israel will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, even if has to act alone on that.” He added warned that “mistakes [by Iran] in the grey area will lead it to the red zone – a war in which it will be hit hard”. Katz also contended that “feeding the Iranian tiger will not help; only an aggressive policy and sanctions and support for the U.S. policy will quickly show that it is a paper tiger”. View More 1 July 2019 The head of Israel’s foreign intelligence service declared that “we can’t agree to Syria becoming a staging ground for Iranian forces or forces operated by it against us. We can’t agree to Syria becoming a logistics base for transferring weapons to Hizbollah and Lebanon. Israel has taken action in the past four years, overtly and covertly, about which only a small amount has been published, in order to block the entrenchment and the production lines of precision-guided munitions”. The Mossad chief added that “thanks to this effort, I believe the Iranians will reach the conclusion that it’s not worth it for them”. He also indicated that “Iran and Hizbollah are asking to move their bases to northern Syria, an area that they mistakenly believe will be difficult for us to reach. In addition, they are establishing bases and precision missile facilities in Iraq… and Lebanon”. View More 1 July 2019 Syrian state media reported that Israel struck military targets in Homs and near Damascus, killing four and injuring 21. View More 28 June 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that “the Iranian regime is suffering. It's trying to use its proxies to 'pin prick' in the Persian Gulf, and escalate the situation in Syria. We have to resist”. He went on to say that “we know something about this region. Iran single greatest threat on the horizon, they must not be allowed to get nuclear weapons. Going back to the JCPOA means giving Iran nuclear weapons. I will not let that happen”. View More 25 June 2019 At a trilateral meeting of U.S., Russian and Israeli National Security advisers, Prime Minister Netanyahu, remarked that “Israel has acted hundreds of times to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, while it actively and openly calls and works for our destruction. We have acted hundreds of times to prevent Iran from delivering increasingly sophisticated weaponry to Hizbollah, or to form a second front in the north against us from the Golan Heights”. He added that “Israel will continue to prevent Iran from using neighbouring territory as platforms to attack us, and Israel will respond forcefully to any such attacks”. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton stated that “it is not a question about a disagreement about the outcome, but a mutual effort to find a way to make it happen”. View More 24 June 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed that “Israel will not allow Iran, which calls for our destruction, to entrench on our border; we will do everything to prevent it from attaining nuclear weapons”. View More 23 June 2019 In Israel, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton stated that "neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness". He also indicated that in meetings with senior Israel officials “we reaffirmed our shared priority of confronting Iranian aggression throughout the region by continuing maximum economic pressure and increasing the cost of Iran’s malign activity”. Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that “thanks to crippling American sanctions, Iran is facing unprecedented economic pressure as a result of its aggression”, adding that “I was pleased to hear President Trump make clear yesterday that pressure will continue and that pressure will increase”. View More 19 June 2019 At a military exercise, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned that “I hear our neighbours from the north, south and east threatening our destruction. I say to our enemies: The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] has very great destructive power. Don’t test us.” View More 12 June 2019 Syria state media reported that the military "confronted an Israeli missile aggression" near the Golan Heights. Later in the day, Prime Minister Netanyahu contended that "the chain of tests that we are dealing with is unending. We respond vigorously and with force to all attacks against us; however, we do not take action only after the fact. We deny the enemy's capabilities before the fact". Netanyahu added that "we are acting methodically and consistently to prevent our enemies from establishing offensive bases against us in our vicinity". View More 11 June 2019 The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against "sixteen individuals and entities associated with an international network benefiting the Assad regime", including a pair of companies based in Lebanon that "facilitated shipments of Iranian-origin petroleum to Syria". View More 11 June 2019 A senior Israeli military official maintained that "Hizbollah's loyalty was and remains to the Supreme Leader of Iran, not to the citizens of Lebanon. As a direct result of this, the nation of Lebanon will pay a heavy price in the next campaign for cooperating with Shiite terror". He went to pledge that "Israel will not allow [Hizbollah] to fulfill its plans and the destructive ambitions that it and its patron Iran have... we will continue to thwart Hizbollah's efforts to threaten our security both overtly and covertly, as necessary. And if a war is forced upon [us], we will exact a heavy price from this organisation and from those who provide it cover - wherever is necessary". View More 10 June 2019 Responding to comments by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who earlier in the day contended that Prime Minister "Netanyahu has said that they will destroy Iran", Netanyahu riposted that "Zarif is lying - again. Iran is the one that openly threatens, every day, to destroy the State of Israel. Iran continues to entrench itself militarily in Syria. And today, the IAEA reports that Iran is accelerating its nuclear program". "I repeat", Netanyahu added, "Israel will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons that threaten our existence and endanger the entire world". View More 2 June 2019 Syrian media reported "an Israeli aggression on the T-4 airport" that led to three casualties as well as "damage to an ammo depot and material damage to some structures and equipment". View More 2 June 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that "Iran transfers $700 million to Hizbollah per annum", part of which "is transferred under diplomatic cover, by seemingly innocent means, to Lebanon and from there to Hizbollah". "These enormous amounts fuel the relentless aggression by Iran and its proxies in the region", Netanyahu continued. He added that "while we do not make light of Iran's threats, neither are we deterred by them because anyone who tries to hurt us will be hurt far worse... we proved it just last night". View More 2 June 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu claimed that the day before, “two missiles were fired toward Israel from Syrian territory. One struck inside Syria and the other hit our territory on the Golan Heights… I ordered the IDF to take strong action, which it did, striking several targets”. “We will respond with great force to any aggression against us”, he promised. View More 29 May 2019 The U.S.’ diplomatic spokesperson asserted that “our maximum pressure campaign on Iran is designed to deny the Iranian regime, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, the means to conduct its destructive foreign policy. Our campaign is working”. She elaborated that “the campaign is starving Iran’s proxies of the funds they rely on to operate on behalf of the regime”, citing examples including Hizbollah, Hamas, the Syrian government and Shiite militias in Iraq. She went on to affirm that “we will continue to apply maximum pressure on the Iranian regime to deny it the means to conduct its destructive foreign policy and compel the regime to negotiate a comprehensive new deal that addresses the full scope of its malign behaviour”, while also indicating that “there is a path forward and we will talk tomorrow if they would like to see the bright future that we believe is there for the Iranian people”. The spokesperson further indicated that “we do not want a war with Iran. We want to de-escalate with Iran. In fact, what we seek is to end economic sanctions, to end the maximum pressure campaign”. View More 27 May 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that “the Syria army attempted to hit an Israeli plane; it did not succeed. In response the air force destroyed the launcher that fired on the plane”. Netanyahu went on to affirm that “our policy is clear: we will not tolerate any aggression against us, and we will respond forcefully”. View More 27 May 2019 Syrian state media claimed that Israel had targeted a military site in Quneitra, adding that the “aggression claimed the life of one soldier and injured another one”. View More 22 May 2019 The U.S. special representative for Syria, James Jeffrey, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that “the [Trump] administration is pursuing three mutually reinforcing whole-of-government strategic objectives in Syria – the enduring defeat of ISIS, the removal of all Iranian-led forces from Syria and the resolution of the Syrian crisis through a political solution in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254”. “The Iranian regime’s malign activity has left us no choice but to pursue the withdrawal of all Iranian-commanded forces from the entirety of Syria”, Jeffrey elaborated. “Iran’s reckless behaviour makes the situation in Syria more dangerous… Iranian-backed forces use bases inside Syria to participate in violence again[st] the Syrian people and launch attacks against Israel”. He added that “Iran and its proxies threaten U.S. national security by sowing instability in the region that exacerbates tensions between communities and provides space for terrorist groups to thrive”. View More 22 May 2019 In remarks at the celebration of Israel’s 71st Independence Day, Secretary Pompeo noted that the U.S. had supported Israel’s security "by applying maximum pressure against the single greatest threat to stability and security in the Middle East, and indeed, stability and security in Israel – the Islamic Republic of Iran". The Israeli envoy in Washington, Ron Dermer, argued that the U.S. exit from the JCPOA in May 2018 constituted “the most important decision affecting Israel’s future that the Trump administration made this past year”. “A year ago, an Iranian regime that vows and works to destroy Israel felt the wind at their backs and believed history was on their side”, Dermer remarked. “Today, that same evil regime faces hurricane force headwinds and fear falling into history’s dustbin”. He went on to thank the U.S. government “for rejecting the path of appeasement, standing up to Iran’s aggression and terror, and confronting the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet”. View More 18 May 2019 Syrian state media reported that the military's "aerial defences intercepted unidentified objects" inbound from Israel. View More 17 May 2019 Syrian state media reported that the military had "intercepted hostile targets coming from the direction of Quneitra." View More 14 May 2019 In an article on the March 2019 U.S. decision to recognise Israel's sovereignty in the Golan Heights, Secretary Pompeo argued that Syria "is a client of Iran and one of the most brutal regimes on earth", adding that "if Israel doesn't maintain control of the Golan, Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terror, or one of its proxies, will gain the strategic high ground". View More 14 May 2019 U.S. Central Command indicated that remarks by a senior military official in the U.S.-led counter-ISIS campaign, who had stated that "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria", "ran counter to the identified credible threats". CENTCOM's statement added that "OIR [Operation Inherent Resolve] is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to U.S. forces in Iraq". View More 12 May 2019 Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz posited that "things are undoubtedly heating up, and Iran - over the last few weeks - has come under 'atomic' pressure. The economic sanctions are breaking the neck of the Iranian economy and there is now an additional, even more powerful wave of American sanctions. We are starting to see the Iranians lose their balance". Steinitz also assessed that "if there is some sort of conflagration between Iran and the U.S., between Iran and its neighbours, I'm not ruling out that they will activate Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad from Gaza, or even that they will try to fire missiles from Iran at the State of Israel". View More 7 May 2019 The leader of an Iraqi militia sanctioned by the U.S. reportedly revealed "the creation of a special brigade to liberate the Golan Heights", adding that "we want to inform the Zionist regime [i.e Israel] that we will not allow their puppet Takrifi groups to shed Muslims' blood with the Zionists' support". View More 1 May 2019 In a speech on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that "in the face of Iran, our policy is clear: in the military field - an aggressive containment of Iran's attempts to establish itself militarily near our borders. And in the political arena - pressure, pressure and more pressure". "In the face of threats of annihilation", Netanyahu continued, "Israel will not extend its neck to slaughter... we are capable and determined to defend ourselves, by ourselves". View More 29 April 2019 Iran's envoy to the UN reiterated the position that "the Golan is and will remain an integral part of Syria". View More 27 April 2019 A senior U.S. military official asserted that "we're going to continue to reach out to our partners and friends in the region to ensure that we make common cause against the threat of Iran... I believe we'll have the resources necessary to deter Iran from taking actions that will be dangerous". He went on to indicate that "over the long term, we're going to reduce our forces in Syria, we recognise that, that's the guidance in which we're operating... that will be something that we will look at very carefully as we go forward". The U.S., he added, would maintain "a long-term presence in Iraq, focussed on the counter-terror mission". View More 18 April 2019 A senior Israeli military official assessed that "Hizbollah still has plans to invade the Galilee", and predicted that "we will thwart those plans". He also indicated that "in the area referred to as 'southern Syria', our operations have been very effective, and they have actually pushed the Iranians out... in those places, Iran's presence is so weak it's almost nonexistent". View More 16 April 2019 Foreign Minister Javad Zarif traveled to Damascus for meetings with President Assad and other senior Syrian officials. View More 15 April 2019 A senior IRGC official indicated that "today, in the area of [Iran's] regional achievements, there are tens of thousands of Lebanese Hizbollah forces around the borders of the Zionist regime [i.e Israel], and this is something the Americans cannot stomach". View More 14 April 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that "we are determined to defend our land - even in the face of our greatest and bitterest of foes, who inscribe our destruction on their banners". "We will continue to act on all fronts", he added, "including in the north, because we are not prepared to allow anybody to entrench in strength and endanger the State of Israel". View More 13 April 2019 Citing military sources, Syrian state media reported that "warplanes of the Israeli enemy conducted an airstrike from Lebanese airspace on one of the military positions" in Hama province. The report acknowledged three casualties as well as "the destruction of some buildings". View More 4 April 2019 A senior Syrian official asserted that "Syria will liberate the occupied Golan by all means and all choices are on the table". He also argued that "the U.S. administration lies with regard to pulling out its troops, which are illegitimately deployed in Syria, and it isn't our duty to teach them to be honest". View More 3 April 2019 Commenting on the floods in Iran, whose scope he described as "unprecedented in the history of Iran", President Rouhani asserted that "those who did not let Iranian residing outside the country send aid to their own people should be ashamed". He also stressed that "neither the holy Quds [i.e Jerusalem] will be a base for occupiers, nor will the Golan Heights be separated from dear Syria". View More 31 March 2019 Upon the conclusion of an Arab League summit, Iran's diplomatic spokesperson indicated that "the Islamic Republic considers the atmosphere of the recent summit as positive compared with its previous meetings", and described the positions taken on the U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights as "positive and promising". However, he also stressed that "we strongly reject and condemn wrong and baseless claims on our country's interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries as well as claims on Iran's three islands". View More 31 March 2019 King Salman affirmed Saudi Arabia's "total rejection of any measures that would infringe on Syrian sovereignty over the Golan". He also urged "the international community to compel Iran-backed Huthi militias to stop their aggressive practices that have caused the sufferings of the Yemeni people and threatened the security and stability of the region". View More 29 March 2019 Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf asserted that "we reject President Trump's declaration on the occupied Golan, which is a Syrian Arab land". Al-Assaf also opined that "Iran's ballistic missiles pose a threat to regional and international security", adding that the Kingdom considered "Iran fully responsible for what is happening in Yemen". View More 28 March 2019 Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif described the U.S. decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights as a "lawless announcement", and advised "our Arab and Muslim brethren" that the "U.S. and Israel will offer you handshakes, but no matter how much you kowtow, they will still steal your lands". View More 28 March 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that "we are operating on several fronts simultaneously. Not far from here are the Golan Heights, our sovereignty over which was recognised by President Trump three days ago... beyond the Golan Heights is Syria, and also Iran. Iran is constantly trying to bring precision long-range missiles, which are very advanced and very lethal, into Syria". "We are not prepared to accept this", Netanyahu continued, "and our activity against Iran's attempt to entrench militarily in Syria, to bring in advanced weaponry, is continuing all the time". View More 27 March 2019 Syrian state media reported "an Israeli air aggression" in Aleppo, claiming that "army air defences... downed a number of the hostile missiles". View More 26 March 2019 In a call with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, President Rouhani emphasised that "Iran is fully ready to implement all agreements made" in his visit to Iraq earlier in the month, adding that "cooperation and negotiation between the officials of the two countries, especially in the southern areas should be promoted". Rouhani also criticised the U.S. move to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, stating that "the worrying talk about violating the rights of the Palestinian and Syrian people, especially on the Golan Heights, are extremely dangerous for the security of the region". View More 26 March 2019 Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah responded to Secretary of State Pompeo's criticisms of Hizbollah during his visit to Beirut. "We feel happy when an official from the world's most powerful state is concerned over our role," Nasrallah asserted. "We feel happy when the administration of the Great Satan [i.e the U.S.] is annoyed by Hizbollah... [Pompeo's statements] made us more faithful that we are in the right position". View More 26 March 2019 In remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Prime Minister Netanyahu praised President Trump's recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, asserting that Trump "made history" while underscoring that the Golan "is indispensable for our defence". Netanyahu went on to declare that "I have a message to all the anti-Semites out there - whether they live in modern Persia, in the palaces of Tehran or the bunkers of Beirut... the Jewish people do not bow down. We stand up. We fight. And we win". View More 26 March 2019 Following President Trump's decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the Iraqi government asserted that it "strongly opposes the legitimisation of the occupation of the Syria Golan". View More 26 March 2019 Following President Trump's decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Saudi Arabia announced "its firm rejection and condemnation of the declaration" and "affirmed its firm and principled position on the Golan Heights that it is an occupied Syrian Arab land". The government further predicted that the move would "have great negative effects on the peace process in the Middle East, [and the] security and stability of the region". View More 26 March 2019 Secretary Pompeo indicated that he was "saddened... but not surprised" by regional and international responses against President Trump's decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He also countered the suggestion that the move set a precedent, arguing that "this is an incredibly unique situation. Israel was fighting a defensive battle to save its nation, and it cannot be the case that a UN resolution is a suicide pact". View More 26 March 2019 Following President Trump's decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, President Rouhani opined that "nobody would ever imagine that someday somebody would take office in America and grant a land to a usurper, against international rules and regulations". View More 25 March 2019 The U.S. added "dozens of new vessels involved in illicit oil shipments" from Iran to Syria in an update to a November 2018 advisory. A senior Treasury Department official noted that "the U.S. has made it clear to the maritime shipping community that we will not tolerate the use of petroleum as a mechanism to finance rogue regimes in Iran and Syria", adding that "as Iran and Syria attempt to adapt their illicit tactics and shift to new vessels, we will continue to provide these updates to the shipping community". View More 25 March 2019 Meeting with President Trump at the White House, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that "I have a simple message to Israel's enemies: We will do whatever we must do to defend our people and defend our state". Netanyahu also hailed President Trump's decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, stating that the "proclamation comes at a time when the Golan is more important than ever for our security, when Iran is trying to establish bases in Syria to strike at Israel. From across the border in Syria, Iran has launched drones into our airspace, missiles into our territory". View More 25 March 2019 President Trump issued a Proclamation on Recognizing the Golan Heights as Part of the State of Israel, which noted that "today, aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizbollah, in southern Syria continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel". View More 22 March 2019 The U.S. special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, noted that "we know historically that Iran has given Hizbollah an average of $700 million a year... we have seen evidence of the impact [of U.S. sanctions] when the leader of Hizbollah makes a public appeal for charity. It speaks for itself. This is the kind of impact that we want". He added that "we know that we have denied the [Iranian] regime even in the short amount of time [since sanctions came into effect] many billions of dollars in revenue", and underscored that the U.S. held "talks with any government where we see sanctions violations or even potential sanctions violations". Hook went on to underscore that "we are... committed to ensuring that troops under Iranian command are out of Syria", and suggested Iran had a "vastly-under reported role in Yemen" despite having "no legitimate interest" in the country. "Giving [Iran] a foothold in Yemen", Hook argued, "allows them to threaten two straits of international commerce". View More 22 March 2019 Following President Trump's announcement that "it is time for the U.S. to fully recognise Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights", Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that "the continued disregard by the Trump administration for the rights of Muslims and Arabs has reached the abhorrent level of giving what is not their, be [it] al-Quds al-Sharif [i.e Jerusalem] or the occupied Golan to the aggressive Zionist entity". An Iranian diplomatic spokesperson indicated that "Iran will closely monitor all future developments and will adopt appropriate policies in cooperation and consultation with the Syrian government and other countries". Meanwhile, the Syrian government insisted that "the Golan is Syria, and it will return to the motherland sooner or later, no matter how long it takes". View More 21 March 2019 President Trump asserted that "after 52 years, it is time for the U.S. to fully recognise Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability!" In response, Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that "President Trump has just made history... he did so at a time when Iran is trying to use Syria as a platform to attack and destroy Israel". "We're celebrating Purim, when 2500 years ago, other Persians, led by Haman, tried to destroy the Jewish people", he reflected. "They failed then; and today, 2500 years later, again Persians led by Khamenei are trying to destroy the Jewish people and the Jewish state. They're going to fail again". View More 20 March 2019 In an encounter with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Pompeo posited that "the ayatollahs have spent four decades spewing hatred, supporting terrorist violence and pursuing nuclear weapons for a war against a neighbour that wishes nothing more than to live in peace. The ayatollah [i.e Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] has declared that the annihilation and destruction of Israel is his primary goal". "With such threats, a daily reality of Israeli life", Pompeo continued, "we maintain our unparalleled commitment to Israel's security and firmly support your right to defend yourself". View More 20 March 2019 President Trump indicated that "in Syria we're leaving 200 people there and 200 people in another place in Syria, closer to Israel, for a period of time". He also predicted that remaining ISIS-held territory "will be gone by tonight". View More 20 March 2019 Meeting with Secretary of State Pompeo in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu praised President Trump's withdrawal from the JCPOA and the imposition of U.S. sanctions against Iran. "What we see is that this pressure is working", Netanyahu remarked. "We need to increase it. We need to expand it. And together, the U.S. and Israel are working in close coordination to roll back Iranian aggression in the region and around the world". "I think there are ways that will intensify the pressure even more", he added. Netanyahu went on to indicate that "we will continue to take action as needed against the attempts of Iran to entrench itself militarily with dangerous weapons in Syria. There is no limitation to our freedom of action, and we appreciate very much the fact that the U.S. backs up our actions as we do them". "You can imagine what would have happened if Israel were not in the Golan", he continued. "We would have Iran on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. It's time that the international community recognises Israel's stay in the Golan, the fact that the Golan will always remain part of the State of Israel". View More 18 March 2019 Iran's military chief of staff met with his opposite numbers from Syria and Iraq, pledging that "measures taken by the three countries will continue until terrorists are fully defeated". He also met with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, in Damascus. View More 17 March 2019 During a trip to Syria, Iran's military chief of staff argued that "all foreign troops who are present in Syria without coordinating with the Syrian government will have to leave the country sooner or later". View More 17 March 2019 Ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo to Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated that "I will discuss with him our efforts to thwart the military entrenchment of Iran in Syria and - above all - we will discuss the efforts to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons". View More 15 March 2019 In comments about the Golan Heights, Secretary Pompeo assessed that "there is a real risk. The proxies that are in the region, in southern Syria and in the vicinity of the Golan Heights, are presenting risk to the Israelis, and we're made clear the Israelis have a right to defend themselves". View More 13 March 2019 The Israeli military revealed that "a senior operative in the Lebanon-based terrorist organisation Hizbollah has been operating a new terror cell in Syria". Purportedly dubbed the "Golan File" by Hizbollah, the IDF assessed that "the network is new and currently focused on becoming familiarised with the Golan Heights area. It is intended to eventually control teams of Syrian operatives who will launch attacks against Israel". Commenting on the intelligence, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that "I have a clear message for Iran and for Hizbollah: Israel knows what you're doing; Israel knows where you're doing it... we know a lot more". He added that Israel "will continue to use all means, overt and covert, to block Iran's efforts to use Syria, Lebanon and Gaza as forward bases for attacking Israel". Israel Foreign Ministry Twitter View More 12 March 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated that "we are continuing to take vigorous action against Iran's attempts to entrench militarily in Syria". View More 11 March 2019 On a visit to the Golan Heights, Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that "the Golan is part of Israel; the Golan must stay part of Israel forever. I think it's very important that the international community recognise this fact and accept it, and most especially our great friend the U.S." Responding to subsequent comments from Senator Lindsey Graham, who pledged to "start an effort to recognise the Golan as part of the State of Israel", Netanyahu stated that "you heard very strong words here from Senator Graham that express American policy, President Trump's policy, of support for Israel. They are taking this to a very concrete step - to keep the Golan part of Israel. Otherwise our border will be with Iran on the shores of the Kinneret - and we are not prepared to accept that". View More 7 March 2019 CENTCOM commander Joseph Votel posited that "the U.S. withdrawal from Syria represents the most dynamic shift in the environment since ISIS lost its ability to govern major population centres and fight as a conventional force and could trigger a renewed race for influence, control, and for some, survival". He further stated that "Israel's legitimate concerns about Iran's increasingly provocative actions in Syria, particularly the transshipment of advanced weapons systems into and through Syria, are driving increasingly forward-leaning Israeli military actions". View More 5 March 2019 President Trump replied to a 22 February letter from members of Congress calling for "a small American stabilising force in Syria" by bracketing a paragraph about ensuring "that ISIS never returns, that Iran is not emboldened" and noting "I agree 100 per cent - all is being done". View More 3 March 2019 Syria state media reported that Israel "fired a shell on the area to the west of Hadar town in [the] Quneitra countryside". View More 3 March 2019 Briefing the cabinet about his 27 February meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that "the focus of our discussions was the Iranian issue. I made it unequivocally clear that Israel will not allow the military entrenchment of Iran in Syria, and I also made it unequivocally clear that we would continue to take military action against it". "We agreed on the continuation of the security coordination mechanism between the Russia military and the IDF", Netanyahu continued, adding that "President Putin and I also agreed on a common goal - the withdrawal of foreign forces that arrived in Syria after the outbreak of the civil war. We agreed to establish a joint team to advance this goal, together with other elements". View More 2 March 2019 President Trump assessed that "as of probably today or tomorrow, we will actually have 100 per cent of the [ISIS] caliphate in Syria... And we'll leave a small group of guys and gals. But we want to bring our people back home". View More 27 February 2019 Qods force commander Soleimani described Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's 25 February trip to Tehran as a "celebration of victory", adding that "you saw how Assad hugged the [Supreme] Leader with love, like a son who has been departed from his father. This is not a minor thing". Soleimani also assessed that "the most secure borders of our country is the common border with Iraq, and our friends are ruling the country". View More 27 February 2019 In Moscow, Prime Minister Netanyahu told President Putin that "the greatest threat to stability and security in the region comes from Iran and its proxies. We are determined to continue our vigorous action against the attempts by Iran, which calls for our destruction, including its attempts to entrench militarily in Syria". View More 27 February 2019 En route to Moscow for talks with President Putin, Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated that "from our point of view, the focus of the talks will be preventing Iran from entrenching in Syria, the entrenchment of a country which explicitly says that its goal is to wipe us out. You know that when I say we are acting against this, these are no empty words". "I will go into details with President Putin... to ensure that the Russian military and the IDF coordinate in such a manner as to prevent friction and clashes between us", Netanyahu added. "This has succeeded up to now and it is important that is also succeed in the future". View More 26 February 2019 President Rouhani maintained that "we have achieved good victories in the political and international stages, and we have done great things in the region, parts of which were on the shoulders of the IRGC, the foreign ministry and the economic sectors". He added that the 25 February visit of President Bashar al-Assad "indicates that if we stand by each other, we will be successful". View More 26 February 2019 Previewing a trip to Moscow, Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated that "the focus of our talks will be the Iranian entrenchment in Syria. We are taking action against it; we are attacking their bases. We will continue to take action against it. This is what I will discuss with the [Russian] President [Vladimir Putin]". Netanyahu added that "we will continue to act until we get the Iranians to leave Syria because Iran is threatening to destroy Israel and we will not allow it a base close to our border". View More 25 February 2019 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad traveled to Tehran for meetings with senior Iranian officials. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei asserted that "Syria... managed to stand strong against a big coalition of the U.S., Europe and their allies in the region and victoriously come out of it". He also warned that "the question of a buffer zone in Syria that the Americans are trying to create is one of their dangerous plots that must be firmly rejected and opposed". "Iran and Syria", Khamenei added, "are strategic allies and the identity and power of Resistance depends on their continuous and strategic alliance, because of which the enemies will not be able to put their plans into action". President Rouhani pledged that "Iran will stand by the Syria government and people like before". View More 24 February 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that "yesterday, we heard a senior Iranian official say 'Iran has achieved 90 per cent of its goals in Syria'. This is incorrect. It is correct that they are trying and it is correct that we are blocking them. Last month another Iranian official said that they are only 'advising' Syria. The world hears very many Iranian lies". "I have a clear message to the Iranian regime that wants to destroy Israel", Netanyahu continued. "Israel will continue to act as necessary in order to block Iranian military entrenchment in Syria". View More 23 February 2019 Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary, Ali Shamkhani, maintained that "we will stay in Syria and fight against terrorism as long as the legitimate Syrian government would make such requests". Addressing Israel's airstrikes, Shamkhani posited that "Israel is clearly taking steps to serve the interests of terrorists and to counter the Syrian government and army". "We severely responded to the [Israeli] attack on T4 and dealt a heavy blow to them", Shamkhani remarked. "We have made arrangements to protect our red line in the area of human casualties caused by any act of aggression and invasion". He also predicted that "we will soon witness a major upheaval in upgrading the deterrent power of resistance in Syria. I believe that the Zionist regime's officials, particularly their military and intelligence officials, are well aware of this issue. The method for tackling their Zionist regime's attacks on Syria and the axis of resistance in 2019 will be significantly different from the combat methods in the past". "We have accomplished more than 90 per cent of our objectives [in Syria]", Shamkhani maintained. "Thus, the Israeli punitive strikes have had no strategic impact and the resistance has pressed ahead with its activities". View More 21 February 2019 The White House announced that following the withdrawal of U.S. forces, "a small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time". However, the following day media reports clarified that the figure may actually be 400. View More 20 February 2019 Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, referring to Israeli airstrikes in Syria, opined that "there is adventurism on Israel's side, and adventurism is always dangerous". Zarif also assessed that a direct clash with Israel was not likely, but added that "we cannot exclude the possibility". View More 14 February 2019 In an interview with Voice of America's Persian service, Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated that "my concern is not that Iran violates the [nuclear] deal. My concern is that Iran keeps the deal... because I think it paves the way to the nuclear arsenal". "The deal produced megabucks, enormous, a cornucopia of riches", he added. "Where is it? Where's the money? Why are the people of Iran suffering? Because this regime is squandering that money on foreign aggression". Asked about the impact of sanction on Iran's support for regional allies, Netanyahu asserted that "the money is drying out... the deprivation of the money means that they have to cut back both for Hizbollah, the Huthis and Hamas - the 'three H's" - but also in Syria they're cutting back because they don't have it". On Israel's campaign against Iran inside Syria, Netanyahu assessed that it had "by and large" succeeded, but "not completely... they're still there, but they would have been in a much greater presence if we hadn't done it. And in fact, the presence has shrunken somewhat". View More 14 February 2019 President Rouhani met with his Turkish and Russian counterparts for discussions on Syria. In a press conference, he suggested that "if the U.S. retreats its forces from Syria, based on our intelligence we know that they will continue to meddle in Syria". Rouhani also posited that "illegal interference in Syria by the Zionist regime [i.e. Israel] is a source of concern for the people of this country and other nations in the region. [The] Israelis bomb anywhere in the region and fly on Lebanese and Syrian soil whenever they wish, and unfortunately, the UN and global authorities are silent about these continued acts of aggression in Syria". View More 13 February 2019 Secretary Pompeo, in Warsaw for the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, described the proceedings as "absolutely historic... the first time in a quarter of a century that you had the prime minister of Israel in the same room talking about threats in the Middle East with senior Arab leaders from all across the Middle East". "This gathering is certainly about Middle East peace and stability," he explained. "You can't talk about that without talking about the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran, whether it's Hizbollah, Hamas, the Houthis - I call them the three H's - whether it's their work against the Iraqi government... whether it's what they're doing in Syria today". Pompeo also remarked that "we don't expect the Iranian people to support the U.S. We expect them to take care of their own country... we want the Iranian people to have the opportunity to live in a prosperous, peaceful society and one that is controlled by their desires, their wishes. And if we can get that, I am very confident that these behaviours that we see in Iran will change dramatically". On Yemen, Pompeo stressed that "we have two problems - three problems really. The first problem is al-Qaeda... the second problem is Iran continuing to fund the Huthis... it provides missiles to the Huthis that they launch into airports in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates". View More 13 February 2019 In Warsaw for the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that "what is important about this meeting - and it is not in secret, because there are many of those - is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of combating Iran". Initial translations of those comments referred to "war with Iran", rather than "combating Iran", which Foreign Minister Zarif quickly seized on as reflecting "Netanyahu's illusions". View More 12 February 2019 En route to Warsaw for the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that "we operate very many means and very many elements against the Iranian aggression, against their attempts to arm themselves with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Time and again we have exposed their terrorist actions in Europe. Time and again we have blocked their attempts to entrench in Syria, day after day". "Our relations with countries in the region, except Syria, are all very good... the reality is that these relations are becoming tighter", Netanyahu added, going on to opine that "the holding of this conference in which Israel, the U.S., various countries around the world and from the region sit down in one place, in one hall and discuss one topic which, in my opinion, is the most important for our national security, is a very important achievement". View More 12 February 2019 During a visit to an Israeli naval facility, Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that "it is impossible to show everything but the missiles that you see behind me can go very far, against any enemy, including Iran's proxies in our region". "We are constantly working according to our understanding and the need to prevent Iran and its proxies from entrenching on our northern border and in our region in general", Netanyahu added. "We are doing everything necessary". View More 10 February 2019 Syrian state media claimed that Israel had shelled and fired missiles at sites in and around Quneitra. View More 6 February 2019 In remarks to a ministerial meeting of the counter-ISIS coalition, President Trump indicated that "the U.S. military, our Coalition partners and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It should be formally announced sometime probably next week that we will have 100 per cent of the caliphate". He went on to state that "as countries in the region and across our Coalition step up their commitments, as we continue to destroy the remnants - that's all they have, remnants. But remnants can be very dangerous". View More 6 February 2019 In remarks to a ministerial meeting of the counter-ISIS coalition, Secretary Pompeo maintained that "the drawdown of [U.S.] troops [from Syria] is essentially a tactical change - it is not a change in the mission. It does not change the structure, design or authorities on which the campaign has been based". Pompeo added that "in addition to this coalition's laser-like focus on defeating ISIS, we're committed to the following series of things. First, a political solution in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. The removal of all Iranian-led forces from Syria". View More 5 February 2019 Previewing a 21 February trip to Moscow, Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated that "it's very important that we continue to prevent Iran from entrenching in Syria. In many ways we've blocked that advance and we're committed to continue blocking it, preventing Iran from creating another war front against us, right here opposite the Golan Heights. This is the main subject I will be discussing with President Putin". View More 5 February 2019 Iranian SNSC Secretary Ali Shamkhani warned that Israel's "continued aggression against Syria, its actions against the army and the resistance forces and violation of the country's territorial integrity is unacceptable... in case of continued acts, the measures foreseen for deterrence and for a crushing and proportional response will be activated to give a lesson to the liar and criminal Israeli rulers". View More 4 February 2019 Ahead of a ministerial meeting of the counter-ISIS coalition, a senior U.S. official noted that "we're entering a very critical phase in which we need to expand the diplomatic cooperation to assist the populations in Iraq and north-eastern Syria recover from ISIS' rule but also maintaining significant pressure on ISIS as it increasingly turns to insurgent tactics to destabilise both north-eastern Syria and Iraq". Another official further indicated that "our three top priorities [in Syria]... continue to be to secure an enduring defeat of ISIS, to see the exit of all Iranian-commanded forces from the entirety of Syria and to reach a political settlement of the conflicts under UN Security Council Resolution 2254". A third diplomat asserted that "we can't turn a blind eye towards the malign activities of Iran throughout the region", adding that "we expect Iran to fully respect the sovereignty of Iraq and other regional states, to cease their destabilising activities and to refrain from actions that enflame sectarian tensions". View More 3 February 2019 Prime Minister told his cabinet that "in Iran today they are marking 40 years since the Islamic revolution and are trying to boast about the new missile. Iran openly declares its intention to destroy the State of Israel. I have a clear message to the tyrants of Tehran: we know what you are doing and where you are doing it. We will continue to take action against Iran with all the tools at our disposal in order to ensure the security and future of Israel". Netanyahu also met with a delegation of UN ambassadors, and asserted to them that "a great shift has taken place in the Middle East. That shift is the rise of the aggressive theocracy of Iran that seeks to conquer the Middle East, eliminate Israel and dominate many other parts of the world". "Iran has proxies", Netanyahu continued. "One of them is Hizbollah... they actually control the government of Lebanon. It means that Iran controls the government of Lebanon. It's important to send this very powerful message just as we stop the terror tunnels coming into Israel, we will stop all the aggression; from Lebanon or from Syria or from Iran itself". View More 29 January 2019 Following discussions between Prime Minister Netanyahu and senior Russian officials, his office reported that "among the issues discussed were Iran and the situation in Syria, and strengthening the security coordination mechanism between the militaries in order to prevent friction". View More 29 January 2019 The U.S. intelligence community found that "Iran seeks to avoid a major armed conflict with Israel. However, Israeli strikes that result in Iranian casualties increase the likelihood of Iranian conventional retaliation against Israel". View More 28 January 2019 A senior IRGC official warned that "our strategy is to wipe Israel off the world's political geography, and Israel seems to be approaching this reality by its evil actions". "If Israel does anything that leads to a new war", he added, "certainly it will be the kind of war that will result in their elimination, and the occupied territories will be retaken". View More 23 January 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that "the main enemy that we face is Iran. Iran declares its intention to destroy us with nuclear weapons, which we are committed to thwarting. But Iran is also building forces around us. It wants to squeeze us". Citing three Iranian "bases" - in Lebanon, in Gaza, and in Syria - Netanyahu maintained that "we are committed to fighting all of these... we are facing Iran and its proxies on these three fronts". View More 22 January 2019 Syria's UN envoy asked the Security Council whether "drawing the attention of the war-makers in this Council require[s] us to exercise our legitimate right to self-defence and respond to Israeli aggression on Damascus International Airport by responding the same way on Tel Aviv Airport?" View More 22 January 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu warned that "our enemies who seek to destroy us should know that Israel's clenched fist will reach all those who seek our ill and we will settle accounts with them". View More 21 January 2019 A senior Iranian military official maintained that "our current and future generations [in the Iranian air force] are impatient and fully ready to confront the Zionist regime and eliminate it from the earth", going on to say that "our future generations are learning required know-how for the promised day to destroy Israel". View More 21 January 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu affirmed that "last night the air force strongly attacked Iranian targets in Syria after Iran launched a missile from there at our territory". "We will not ignore such acts of aggression as Iran attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria and given explicit statements by Iran that it intends to destroy Israel", Netanyahu continued, adding that "whoever tries to hurt us - we hurt them. Whoever threatens to destroy us will bear the full responsibility". View More 20 January 2019 Syrian state media announced that the country's "air defences... confronted an Israeli aerial attack [that] targeted the southern region"; Russian's defence ministry asserted that seven missiles had been shot down and that they were targeting Damascus' airport. The Israeli military subsequently announced that "a rocket was fired at the northern Golan Heights and was intercepted by the Iron Dome Aerial Defense System". "We have a permanent policy: to strike at the Iranian entrenchment in Syria and hurt whoever tries to hurt us", asserted Prime Minister Netanyahu. Shortly thereafter, the IDF confirmed that it had "started striking Iranian Qods [force] targets in Syria territory", hitting several purported Iranian sites as well as Syrian air defences. View More 17 January 2019 The Israeli military held discussions with Russian counterparts on "advancing and improving the de-confliction mechanism between the two countries in the northern arena and the IDF's activities against Iranian entrenchment and the Hizbollah organisation's rearmament efforts in Syria". View More 16 January 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that "the most important thing that happened in the last year in our region is the decision by President Trump to move out of the [Iran nuclear] agreement. This has caused a tailspin in Iran's economy. What the nuclear deal did was fuel Iran's coffers, and from these coffers, they put it right into Syria, right into Hizbollah, right into Hamas". "The second most dramatic thing that happened", Netanyahu continued, "is our military activity in Syria to deprive Iran from basing itself militarily against us in Syria". View More 16 January 2019 The IRGC's commander warned Israel to "fear the day when Iranian precision missiles hit you and take revenge of all the blood of oppressed Muslims which you have shed". "Iran will keep in Syria all the military and revolutionary advisors, and equipment and weapons which aim to train and empower Islamic resistance forces and support oppressed people of the country", he pledged, adding that "we do not take into account your ridiculous threats. You know that if we have chosen to wait against your hostile measures, some considerations lie behind it". In related comments, Iran's diplomatic spokesperson advised Prime Minister Netanyahu to "know your limits". View More 15 January 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that "there is one central threat: Iran and its terror proxies. We have acted carefully and responsibly to thwart efforts by those who wish to annihilate us to become stronger. We did this by blocking the nuclear deal with Iran and reimposing sanctions. We had to penetrate through Iranian lies, as Iran lies all the time. They lied about the nuclear deal, and we exposed that by uncovering the secret nuclear archive from Tehran. They are lying now, saying that they are launching an ostensibly innocent satellite into space, but in fact, they are aiming to accomplish the first stage for an inter-continental missile in defiance of all international agreements. We fully support the U.S.' unwavering objection to this aggressive act". "Another step we have taken to protect Israel", he continued, "is disrupting Hizbollah's attempts to acquire precision-guided munitions, destroying Hizbollah's tunnels in the north and those of Hamas in the south, and above all, preventing the Iranian military entrenchment in Syria". Citing an Iranian official's recent remarks about Iran's advisory role in Syria, Netanyahu said: "I advise them to get out of there fast, because we will continue with our resolute policy, as we have promised and as we are doing, fearlessly and relentlessly". View More 14 January 2019 A senior Iranian military official indicated that "as far as terrorists are in Syria and the country asks help from Tehran, Iran will continue its advisory presence in Syria". View More 13 January 2019 Via Twitter, President Trump indicated the U.S. was "starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. [We] will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20-mile safe zone..." He went on to add that "[we] do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey. Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long-term U.S. policy of destroying ISIS in Syria - natural enemies". View More 13 January 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that "we worked with impressive success to block Iran's military entrenchment in Syria. In this framework, the IDF attacked Iranian and Hizbollah targets hundreds of times. We worked together against the manufacture of precision weapons in Lebanon. We worked to dismantle Hizbollah's tunnels weapon in Lebanon, in Operation 'Northern Shield'". "Just in the last 36 hours", Netanyahu revealed, "the air force attacked Iranian warehouses with Iranian weapons at the international airport in Damascus. The accumulation of recent attacks proves that we are determined more than ever to take action against Iran in Syria, just as we promised". View More 13 January 2019 Confirming Israeli strikes against what he described as "an Iranian weapons warehouse at the international airport in Damascus", Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that "if necessary, we will step up these attacks". He also indicated that operation "Northern Shield", along the Lebanon border, had come "to a successful close". View More 13 January 2019 Secretary Pompeo affirmed that "the roughly 2,000 uniformed soldiers that are in Syria today are going to be withdrawn. That activity is underway. We’re going to do so in an orderly, deliberate way, a way that protects America’s national security, a way that allows us to continue the important mission that they were on. The counter-terrorism mission, the effort to make sure that the destruction of ISIS is not only complete but that their resurgence is not possible, our efforts to counter the threat from terrorism stemming from the Islamic Republic of Iran – those are all real missions. The tactical change we’ve made in the withdrawal of those 2,000 troops is just that, a tactical change. The mission remains the same". View More 12 January 2019 Secretary Pompeo acknowledged that the U.S. goal of removing "every Iranian boot on the ground [in Syria] is an ambitious objective... but it's ours. It is our mission". Withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria, Pompeo explained, "is a tactical change. It doesn't materially alter our capacity to continue to perform the military actions that we need to perform. But even more broadly than that, the campaign to create a better world, to allow the Iranian people to have opportunity and democracy, has lots of pieces to it - economic, financial, diplomatic for sure". He went on to suggest that "the nuclear proliferation risks from Iran are incredibly real... our mission set is certainly to stop the terror regime, to stop the fighting of Hizbollah and Shiite militias and the Huthis... but it has a nuclear component". View More 12 January 2019 In letters to the UN, the Syrian government posited that on 11 January Israel "targeted a number of sites in the vicinity of Damascus and its countryside with missiles launched by Israeli warplanes". View More 11 January 2019 Israel's outgoing military chief of staff reflected that "we operated under a certain threshold until two-and-a-half years ago. And then we noticed a significant change in Iran's strategy. Their vision was to have significant influence in Syria by building a force of up to 100,000 Shiite fighters... they built intelligence bases and an air force base within each Syria air base". Referring to IRGC Qods force commander Qasem Soleimani, Gadi Eisenkot assessed that "his error was choosing a playground where he is relatively weak... we have strong deterrence and we have justification to act". "The force we faced over the last two years was a determined force", Eisenkot continued, "but not very impressive in its capabilities". He went on to add that "as we push [the Iranians] in Syria, they transfer their efforts to Iraq". View More 10 January 2019 Secretary Pompeo underscored that "we strongly support Israel's efforts to stop Tehran from turning Syria into the next Lebanon" going on to say that "the U.S. fully supports Israel's right to defend itself against the Iranian regime's aggressive adventurism". "We will continue to ensure that Israel has the military capacity to do so decisively", he added. View More 10 January 2019 Secretary Pompeo pledged that "in Syria, the U.S. will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot". "There will be no U.S. reconstruction assistance for areas of Syria held by Assad", he added, "until Iran and its proxy forces withdraw and until we see irreversible progress towards a political resolution". View More 7 January 2019 Secretary Pompeo remarked that President Trump has "made a commitment. We're going to withdraw our uniformed personnel, uniformed guys, 2000 roughly folks on the ground. We're going to withdraw them from Syria". View More 6 January 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu told National Security Advisor John Bolton that "President [Trump] walked away from the dangerous Iran deal and re-imposed sanctions... that's important to America, to Israel, to the world, and everyone who wants to stop Iranian aggression respects that deeply". View More 4 January 2019 A senior U.S. diplomat explained that "concerning Syria, we have no timeline for our military forces to withdraw... the President has made the decision that we will withdraw our military forces from Syria, but that it will be done in a deliberate, heavily coordinated way with our allies and partners". The diplomat went on to assert that "our military posture in Syria may be changing, but our overall goals in Syria remain the same, and key among those is... to see the withdrawal from Syria of all Iranian-commanded forces". View More 4 January 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding "developments in Syria, including in light of the U.S.' plans to withdraw its troops... the parties reaffirmed their mutual determination to strengthen coordination through military and diplomatic channels". View More 3 January 2019 Secretary Pompeo remarked that "the President is not ambiguous with respect to Syria. Our troops are coming out. The President also made very clear that we needed to continue the counter-ISIS campaign, and we needed to continue to ensure that we did the things to create stability throughout the Middle East. The counter-Iran campaign continues. We'll do all of those things......we will simply do it at a time when the American forces have departed Syria". Pompeo also discussed U.S. sanctions against Iran, stating that while "a well-supplied crude oil market" was a consideration for issuing sanctions waivers, "we want to ensure that we're complying with the requirements that the sanctions on Iran have the ultimate goal which we're trying to achieve: creating an outcome where the Iranian people... can have better lives than they have today under this tyrannical regime". View More 3 January 2019 Prime Minister asserted that "we are acting decisively to thwart all those who seek to endanger us. This is now happening in Syria, against Iran's attempts to entrench itself militarily... it is also happening on the Lebanese border". Netanyahu went on to argue that "the greatest threat from Iran is that of nuclear weapons in the hands of a power which declares that we need to be wiped off the face of the earth... I insisted on the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran and President Trump indeed made the brave decision to re-impose them. President Trump is acting against Iran in the economic sphere and here in Israel we are acting against Iran in the military sphere". View More 2 January 2019 President Trump asserted that "Iran is no longer the same country. Iran is pulling people out of Syria. They can do what they want there, frankly. But they're pulling people out. They're pulling people out of Yemen". "When we do all of the things that we've done monetarily to Iran", he added, "Iran is in trouble. And you know what? I'd love to negotiate with Iran. They're not ready yet, I don't think. But they will be. But Iran is a much different country right now... than it was when I took over". Asked about a timetable for pulling U.S. forces out of Syria, Trump responded that it would occur "over a period of time. I never said I'm getting out tomorrow. I said we're pulling our soldiers out, and they will be pulled back in Syria, and we're getting out of Syria... but we're getting out very powerfully". View More 31 December 2018 President Trump asserted that "ISIS is mostly gone", adding that "we're slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting ISIS remnants". View More 30 December 2018 Iran's military chief of staff posited that "the U.S. pullout from Syria is a humiliating withdrawal", adding that "wherever Americans have been present, they caused insecurity... the [U.S.] exit from Syria and other parts of the region will lead to enhanced security and calm in the region". View More 28 December 2018 The State Department issued a statement underscoring that "the U.S. fully support Israel's right to defend itself against Iranian regional actions that endanger Israeli national security and the safety of the Israeli people. Iranian support of and supply to terrorist groups in Syria and across the region that have the clear intent and capability to strike Israel are unacceptable". View More 26 December 2018 The Syria government filed letters of complaint to the UN regarding 25 December Israeli airstrikes. View More 26 December 2018 During a visit to Iraq, President Trump asserted that "there will be a strong, deliberate and orderly withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria... while maintaining the U.S. presence in Iraq to prevent an ISIS resurgence and to protect U.S. interests, and also to always watch very closely over any potential reformation of ISIS and also to watch over Iran. We'll be watching". The trip drew criticism from Iraqi parliamentarians as well as PMU officials.