Flashpoint / Global 10 August 2020 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 10 August 2020 Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz contended that “while [Hizbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah is our biggest enemy to the north, he is the biggest problem for Lebanon… We are fighting enemies that keep weapons and operate in civilian surroundings. If we don’t have a choice but to fight, it will have dire consequences”. He also remarked that “Iran is interested in opening a terror franchise in Syria, and we must prevent the opening of this franchise as much as possible. We are operating in Syria and in other places around the region all the time and with all kinds of methods, and we will continue to do so”. The following day, Prime Minister Netanyahu told the French president that “in order to prevent disasters like the one that occurred at Beirut port, the explosives and missiles that Hizbollah has hidden must be removed from all concentrations of civilian population in Lebanon”. “Hizbollah is sorely mistaken if thinks it can solve the crisis in Lebanon by creating a crisis with Israel”, he added. View More 6 August 2020 The Israeli military announced that it had “identified, monitored and downed a drone which infiltrated into northern Israel along the Blue Line”. View More 2 August 2020 The Israeli army announced that it had “thwarted an attempt by four terrorists to place explosives near the security fence between Israel and Syria. Our troops and aircraft fired toward the squad and a hit was identified”. Israel’s top military official on 7 August argued that the “squad was sent by Iran, which was part of the process of establishing a radical axis in Syria”. The IDF confirmed that it had responded to the incident by targeting Syrian “observation posts, intelligence collection systems, anti-aircraft artillery and command and control systems”. Syrian state media reported “material losses” from the attack. Prime Minister Netanyahu later maintained that “we hit a cell and now we hit the dispatchers. We will do what is necessary in order to defend ourselves. I suggest to all of them, including Hizbollah, to consider this”. View More 30 July 2020 Senior defence officials convened the annual U.S.-Israel Defense Policy Advisory Group (DPAG). The Israeli readout noted that “throughout the sessions, both sides discussed strategic and regional security challenges, with emphasis on Iran and its malign regional activity, as well as its nuclear aspirations”. View More 29 July 2020 The U.S. designated fourteen Syrian individuals and entities pursuant to the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (Caesar Act). The same day, the U.S. special envoy for Syria, commenting on Iran’s “military cooperation agreement” with Damascus, asserted that “such military aid to the Assad regime, violates the Caesar Act… The Iranian regime’s pledge to export military equipment to Syria is in blatant defiance of the UN arms embargo under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, and it’s a further demonstration of why we in the U.S. think it’s an imperative that the Security Council must act to extend the arms embargo on Iran” beyond October. He further maintained that “the Iraqi militant groups that are sponsored by the Iranian regime, have been dealing with the Syrian regime in a way that would clearly violate… the spirit of the Caesar Act as well as UN Security Council resolutions”. View More 28 July 2020 At a session of the Supreme Defence Council, Lebanese President Michel Aoun denounced “the Israeli aggressions on south Lebanon yesterday… and considered what happened as a threat on stability in southern Lebanon”. Meanwhile, the IDF deployed further military and intelligence support to Israel’s northern border. The same day, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with top military officials at IDF Northern Command headquarters, assessing that “everything happening now is the result of the effort by Iran and its Lebanese proxies to entrench militarily in our region. [Hizbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah is serving this Iranian interest at Lebanon’s expense”. “We will continue to take action to thwart Iran’s military entrenchment in our region”, he added. Relatedly, Defence Minister Benny Gantz remarked that “I suggest that the countries of the region – near and far, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and anyone involved in terrorism – remember that the State of Israel has infinite capacity and we know how to use it”. View More 27 July 2020 The Israeli army announced that it had “thwarted an infiltration attempt by a Hizbollah terror squad in northern Israel”. Addressing the Knesset, Prime Minister Netanyahu affirmed that Israel would “not allow Iran to entrench militarily on our border with Syria”, underscored that “Lebanon and Hizbollah will bear responsibility for any attack against us emanating from Lebanese territory” and indicated that “We are active in all arenas for the security of Israel – both close to our borders and far from them”. Hizbollah subsequently issued a statement maintaining it “did not engage in any clash, nor did it open fire during today’s incident… The scared and tense enemy unilaterally opened fire”. It further pledged an “inevitable” response to the 20 July death of a Hizbollah fighter in Syria and insisted that “today’s Israeli bombardment… will not remain unanswered”. Later in the day, Netanyahu asserted: “[Hizbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah is embroiling Lebanon because of Iran… we view the attempt to infiltrate our territory with great severity”. “Hizbollah needs to understand that it is playing with fire. Any attack against us will be met with great strength”, he added. View More 26 July 2020 Prime Minister Netanyahu told his cabinet that “we are acting according to our consistent policy of not allowing Iran to entrench militarily on our northern border. Lebanon and Syria bear the responsibility for any attack against Israel emanating from their territories”. The same day, Defence Minister Benny Gantz visited the northern border and listed “removing Iranian entrenchment in Syria, blocking the transfer of advanced [weapons] and preventing the development of precision [guided missiles] anywhere in the region – in Syria or in Lebanon” as Israel’s security interests. “We don’t want any unnecessary escalations, but anyone who tests us will be met by a very high capability to take action, and I hope we won’t need to use it”, he added, while further anticipating that “there can be [security] events on the border. We are prepared for all possibilities”. View More 26 July 2020 The Israeli army reported that “during an Israel Defense Forces operation on the Lebanese border, an IDF drone fell in Lebanese territory”. View More 24 July 2020 The Israeli army confirmed that “explosions were heard adjacent to the security fence from the Syrian side of Israel’s northern border. Damage to a civilian building and an Israeli vehicle was likely caused by fragments”. It subsequently also raised “readiness to defend Israel’s northern border from all enemy threats with changes to troop deployment and enhanced field intelligence activity in the area”, asserting: “we hold the Lebanese government responsible for all actions emanating from Lebanon”. Later on, the IDF announced that “earlier today, munitions were fired from Syria toward Israel. In response, our aircraft struck military targets in southern Syria belonging to the Syrian Armed Forces”, describing these as “SAF observation posts and intelligence collection systems located in SAF bases”; Syria media reported two casualties. “We hold the Syrian regime responsible and will respond to any violation of Israeli sovereignty”, the IDF warned. View More 24 July 2020 The U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, visited Israel and met with senior officials. Israel’s top military official emphasised that “the Israel Defense Forces and the U.S. Armed Forces share a mutual interest to prevent Iran and its proxies from jeopardising the stability of the region”, and underscored that Israel “will act to the extent necessary to remove any threat that endangers the sovereignty of Israel or its citizens”. Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz stated that “we have no interest in escalation, but we will do everything necessary to protect Israeli citizens, by all means, and under all conditions. I do not suggest that our enemies test us”. View More 21 July 2020 The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, announced the arrest of ten Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine members who allegedly were “involved in planning attacks against Israeli targets”. The agency reported that interrogation of one of the suspects indicated that “the organisation conducted joint exercises with officials in Iran, as well as Hizbollah and the Syrian military, and they were also sources of funding for the organisation’s activities”. View More 20 July 2020 Media reports indicated that a suspected Israeli strike “hit weapons depots and military positions belonging to Syrian regime forces and Iran-backed militia fighters south of Damascus”. Syrian state media reported injuries to “at least seven Syrian troops”, while Hizbollah confirmed one fatality from its ranks. On 23 July, the Israeli army announced that “in accordance with a recently-concluded situational assessment, we have decided to reinforce the Northern Command with select infantry forces”. Responding to suggestions that Israel may have sent a message to Hizbollah after the incident, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said: “we acted against the entrenchment of Iran in Syria. If someone involved in Iran’s activities in Syria – which we will continue to act against – this is liable to happen. We take that into account”. View More 8 July 2020 Iran’s military chief of staff, Mohammad Baqeri, met with the Syrian Minister of Defence in Damascus and inked “a comprehensive military cooperation agreement”. Baqeri reportedly expressed Tehran’s commitment to “strengthen Syria’s air defence systems in line with the reinvigoration of military cooperation between the two countries”, and said the deal “will increase our determination for joint cooperation to confront the U.S. pressures”. The following day, Baqeri met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who remarked that “this agreement reflects the strategic level of relations between Iran and Syria”. A U.S. military spokesperson subsequently asserted that “the mission of U.S. forces in Syria today remains the same as it was when they first began operations in 2014… U.S. service members will continue to execute the Defeat ISIS mission in Syria, working in conjunction with vetted local forces in northeast Syria and around Al-Tanf Garrison”. View More 5 July 2020 Referring to a series of blasts in Iran including the 2 July incident at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) that Iranian officials acknowledged caused “significant damage”, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz indicated that “everyone can be suspicious of us all the time… But not every event that happens in Iran is connected to us”. He further asserted that “a nuclear Iran is a threat to the world and the region, as well as a threat to Israel. And we will do everything to prevent that from happening. And we will do everything possible to prevent Iran from spreading terror and weapons, but I do not refer to any individual event”. Relatedly, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi maintained that “we have a long-term policy… not to allow Iran to have nuclear abilities. This regime with those abilities is an existential threat to Israel, and Israel cannot allow it to establish itself on our northern border”. “We take actions that are better left unsaid”, Ashkenazi asserted. View More 1 July 2020 Meeting with Russian and Turkish counterparts under the “Astana Process” talks over Syria, President Rouhani asserted that U.S. sanctions against Syria were “economic terrorism” and pledged that Iran “will continue to support the people and the legitimate government of Syria with greater power. He went on to argue that “the illegitimate presence of the occupying forces of the U.S. regime on Syrian soil has become a destabilising factor for Syria and the entire region, and is plundering natural resources of the country by increasing its illegal military bases in Syria's oil-rich in the eastern Euphrates”. Rouhani further condemned “the increasing scope of the Zionist Regime's [ie, Israel’s] aggression on Syrian soil, and maintained that Israel’s “actions along with the occupation of the Golan Heights have been a factor in destabilising and threatening the peace and security of the region, and the occupying regime will face its consequences”. The meeting concluded with a joint statement emphasising that “there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that it could only be resolved through the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254”. It further recognised “Israeli military attacks in Syria as destabilising and violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this country and intensifying the tension in the region”. View More 30 June 2020 In a joint press conference with the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, Prime Minister Netanyahu contended that Iran “continues its secret program to develop nuclear weapons. It continues its secret program to develop the means to delivering nuclear weapons”. He also affirmed that “we take repeated and forceful military action against Iran and its proxies in Syria and elsewhere if necessary… Israel will continue to take these actions”. Addressing Hook, Netanyahu said: “it is time to implement now snapback sanctions. I don't think we can afford to wait. We should not wait for Iran to start its breakout to a nuclear weapon because when that happens it will be too late for sanctions”. Hook also met with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi during his visit to Jerusalem; Ashkenazi reiterated “concerns about Iran’s continued breach of the [UN] arms embargo” and underscored that “Iran continues to support and arm its proxies in the region, chief among them Hizbollah and Hamas”. View More 25 June 2020 Prime Minister Netanyahu opined that “three main challenges are before us, and we are taking action without respite against them: First, we are taking constant action against the efforts of Iran and its proxies to entrench militarily in Syria. The Iranian military must leave Syria. Second, we are taking action against the efforts of our enemies to develop precision missiles in Syria, Lebanon and other areas. Third, and most importantly, we will not allow Iran to attain nuclear weapons”. “Iran is continuing to lie to the international community in its effort to achieve a bomb”, Netanyahu argued. “I have been claiming this for years and today the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, understands this”. He further affirmed that “we regard with utmost seriousness the threats of destruction against Israel by Iranian and pro-Iranian elements… Whoever tries to attack us places himself in very great danger”. View More 23 June 2020 Syrian state media reported that “hostile air targets coming from east and northeast of Palmyra launched a number of missiles on some military sites” in eastern and southern Syria, causing two fatalities and four injuries. Hours later there were further reports that “the Israeli enemy launched a new aggression through which it targeted a number of the Syrian military sites” near Hama. View More 21 June 2020 Israel’s top military official assessed that “Iran has become the most dangerous country in the Middle East… It has made considerable progress in its nuclear program, but the nuclear [threat] is no longer the only threat”. “Iran also holds conventional weapons”, he added. “It is supporting and financing our enemies in the first circle and chiefly Hizbollah, it influences and supports Hamas and the Islamic Jihad and it is behind attempts at terror actions against Israel in a variety of dimensions and arenas, near and far”. View More 17 June 2020 The sanctions provisions of U.S. “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019” (the Caesar Act) went into effect. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that “the Treasury Department and State Department are releasing 39 designations under the Caesar Act and Executive Order 13894 as the beginning of what will be a sustained campaign of economic and political pressure to deny the Assad regime revenue and support it uses to wage war and commit mass atrocities against the Syrian people”. Pompeo further asserted that “we anticipate many more sanctions and we will not stop until Assad and his regime stop their needless, brutal war against the Syrian people and the Syrian government agrees to a political solution to the conflict as called for by UNSCR 2254”. View More 7 June 2020 Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that “the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) determined that Iran had refused to allow IAEA inspectors to clandestine sites at which Iran had carried out secret military nuclear activity. Iran has systematically violated its commitments by hiding sites and enriching fissionable material, and has committed other violations”. “The reality certainly requires it in the light of these revelations, for the international community to join the U.S. and reimpose paralysing sanctions on Iran”, he added. Netanyahu went on to assert that “the coronavirus has not lessened by one iota our determination to act against Iran’s aggression… Israel will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons and will continue to act methodically against Iran’s attempts to militarily entrench on our borders”. View More 4 June 2020 Syrian state media reported that “Israeli warplanes targeted, from over the Lebanese airspace, one of the military sites… [near] Misyaf, and the army air defences immediately confronted the hostile missiles and shot down a number of them”. According to the report, the attack “caused material damage without human causalities”. View More 31 May 2020 Media reports suggested that there had been an air strike against “three military vehicles belonging to Iran-backed paramilitary fighters near the Iraqi border”. There were separate reports of strikes targeting “Iran-backed militias in northern Syria”. View More 27 May 2020 Hizbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah argued that “Israel is aware that any attack on Lebanon will not pass without a response”, adding that “the latest Israeli attack on a car that had members of Hizbollah in it in the Syrian territories without causing casualties was not an Israeli error… Israel intended not to hurt the men in that car because it was aware that the equation today is that there would be a response on any assassination”. He further noted that “America wants to humiliate Lebanon and impose its conditions on it”… the solution for the economic crisis is to abandon U.S. satisfaction and head east [ie, China]”. Nasrallah also “ruled out [the possibility of] any war between the U.S. and Iran or between Israel and Lebanon unless the U.S. or Israel decide to make a stupid act”. View More 27 May 2020 Hizbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah argued that “Israel is aware that any attack on Lebanon will not pass without a response”, adding that “the latest Israeli attack on a car that had members of Hizbollah in it in the Syrian territories without causing casualties was not an Israeli error… Israel intended not to hurt the men in that car because it was aware that the equation today is that there would be a response on any assassination”. He further noted that “America wants to humiliate Lebanon and impose its conditions on it”… the solution for the economic crisis is to abandon U.S. satisfaction and head east [ie, China]”. Nasrallah also “ruled out [the possibility of] any war between the U.S. and Iran or between Israel and Lebanon unless the U.S. or Israel decide to make a stupid act”. View More 24 May 2020 Prime Minister Netanyahu told the cabinet that “the security challenges have not stopped for a moment, neither have the threats. You certainly heard the ruler of Iran, Khamenei, threatening our destruction. Whoever threatens us with destruction will certainly not succeed, but places himself in great danger”. “Our policy is to oppose Iranian aggression in every place and to oppose Iran’s attempts to entrench in Syria”, Netanyahu added. “We are active constantly and… oppose Iran’s attempt to place or develop in Syria weapons to serve its proxies and forces that could endanger the State of Israel”. In related remarks, Defence Minister Benny Gantz indicated that “we are still keeping a close watch on the military fronts in Lebanon and Syria. The security problems that could happen in the north have not passed… We have to stretch our hand out to peace on every front – and have the military strength that can ensure we will reach peace and preserve it”. View More 21 May 2020 The U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, indicated that “we have seen some tactical displacement of Iranian troops. We see both Russia and Syria recognising the incentives for Iranian troops and forces under Iranian command and control to leave Syria… That has been a condition of American and the international community providing reconstruction assistance”. Hook added that Iran “is an obstacle… to moving along toward a post-conflict political process. So we think that there are increasing incentives for Iran to leave Syria”. Relatedly, the Israeli military reported “a backward movement [of Iranian/Iranian-backed forces] from various locations to other locations that are further away and in reduced numbers”, assessing the shift to be “not massive, not underwhelming” yet “undeniable”. View More 19 May 2020 Israel’s top military official asserted that “we will continue to use various military tools and specialised fighting techniques to harm the enemy”, adding that “dozens of attacks that were carried out, including recently, have already proven the superiority of the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) intelligence and firepower”. “When the Israeli home front is threatened by thousands of missiles and rockets, we will not hesitate to attack forcefully in order to thwart those threats”, he added. View More 18 May 2020 Outgoing Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett confirmed that “we have intensified the scope of the attacks against Iranian forces in Syria. We’ve made it clear by our actions that there’s no place protected from us. There’s no safe place for those who try to attack the State of Israel”. He further argued that “Iran has in fact started a process of withdrawing from Syria, but we’ve got to finish the job… We have to increase the diplomatic, economic, military and technological pressure, as well as operate in other realms”. The same day, Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson asserted that “we are in Syria to help them fight terrorism… our attendance in Syria does not concern the U.S. and the Zionist regime [ie, Israel] at all”. View More 16 May 2020 Syrian state media reported an explosion in Aleppo. Later in the day, airstrikes were reported near the Iraq-Syria border. View More 13 May 2020 The U.S. convened the UN “Security Council to meet under its 2231 Format to discuss Iran’s April 22 satellite launch”, which it called “yet another example of Iran’s relentless defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231”. According to the U.S. mission, its representatives “highlighted Iran’s ongoing violation of the UN arms embargo in Resolution 2231, reminding Council members that Iran continues to funnel weapons to proxy forces and terrorist groups in places like Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Bahrain”. The U.S. also argued that “Iran’s continued violations of the Security Council’s arms embargo demands greater pressure from the Security Council, not less, and the U.S. will work tirelessly with a coalition of concerned nations to ensure the embargo is extended”. View More 13 May 2020 A senior U.S. diplomat assessed that “the Iranian threat… is actually severe and getting worse on some fronts, and the Iranians continue to make progress on the nuclear front, etc. So this is a growing concern of ours”. Asked about “incidents lately that kind of increase that urgency about the Iranian threat”, the official replied: “the most obvious thing is that you see things oftentimes blowing up in Syria… what appears to be increased Israeli operational tempo and broadening its target set”. The official went on to say that “the Iranians are still certainly provocative. Maybe in some places slow down operational tempo a little bit… There are [COVID-19] curfews so it is hard for their proxy militias to go out at night and try and kill Americans. But they still go, and the threat is still there, and they’re still planning and they’re still shooting. Their allies in Iraq continue to shoot rockets at U.S. facilities”. View More 13 May 2020 Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah contended that the “Israeli defence minister… is talking about fake victories in Syria. The Israelis lose the war in Syria, and they have been targeting all what is related to missiles manufacturing in Syria, because they believe that missiles pose a high risk to Israel”. Nasrallah also argued that Israel had “set a fake goal for Syria” in seeking an Iranian withdrawal, on the grounds that “there have been no Iranian troops in Syria but rather there have been military advisers who train forces and coordinate Tehran’s support to Damascus”. View More 9 May 2020 A senior U.S. diplomat indicated that “Iran has been persistent in its efforts to establish this beachhead basically on Israel’s border and to bring in advanced weaponry and assets targeting Israel and moving equipment… through Syria to Hizbollah with this sort of land bridge. We see repeatedly, oftentimes with no claims of responsibility, that these assets are being hit with great regularity, just pounded, and it would make sense at a certain point that Iran would want to cut its losses and downsize its presence there just because it’s increasingly costly to them in terms of life and property”. The official added that the Iranians “would be well advised to start using some of this investment in this military infrastructure in Syria and with Hizbollah to start spending some of that money on their own people who are suffering terribly from COVID”. View More 7 May 2020 The U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement, James Jeffrey, confirmed that “we see some Iranian movement around Syria pulling back from areas where the Israelis have struck them. We’ve also seen a withdrawal of Iranian-backed militias – some Hizbollah, some from other countries. But this may be chalked up to a relative lull in the fighting”. He further noted that “what we have not seen… is any strategic Iranian commitment not to try to use Syria both as a second launching pad for long-range weapons against Israel and as a conduit – the famous Shiite Crescent – on to provide Hizbollah more lethal and more modern precision-guided missiles, again, to threaten Israel. That would be the big change”. Jeffrey added that “our policy right now is to restore the situation in 2011 before the conflict began, and that would eventually lead to all of the other military forces that have entered leaving. Ones were most interested in, of course, are the Iranians and the Iranian-commanded militias”. View More 6 May 2020 U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated that “we have been very clear to the Assad regime all along, and to the Russians in Syria: the Iranians need to leave. They need to leave not only the south west corner that has a direct and real impact on Israel and risks to the Golan, but more broadly throughout the country”. He further argued that “the very terror regime that we talk about in the Islamic Republic of Iran has got a campaign that supports what Assad has done that has brutalised and destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands, caused six or seven million people to have to flee Syria. The Iranian regime is responsible for that in the same way that the Syrian regime is”. View More 5 May 2020 Amidst a series of suspected Israeli airstrikes in Syria, Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett asserted that “we are determined, more determined [than Iran], and I can tell you why — for Iran, Syria is an adventure happening 1,000km away from home. For us, it’s our lives”. He further warned that “Iranian soldiers who come to Syria and operate there… are putting their lives at risk, they are paying that price and will continue to do so. We will not give up and we will not allow the establishment of an Iranian forward operating base in Syria”. In related comments, an unnamed Israeli defence official assessed that “Syria is paying a growing price for the Iranian presence in its territory, for a war that isn’t [Syria’s]. Iran has turned from an asset to Syria into a burden”. View More 4 May 2020 Syrian state media reported that the “air defences confronted… a missile aggression” near Aleppo that “targeted some military depots”. There was also reports of a separate strike in Deir al-Zour province. View More 2 May 2020 Asked about reported Israeli strikes in Syria, the U.S. Special Representative for Syria, James Jeffrey, noted that “the U.S. supports Israel’s efforts to secure its self-defence. Israel is facing an existential threat from Iran, as they have said a thousand times that their mission is to destroy Israel. The Iranians are in Syria in large numbers, passing on long-range weapon systems to Hizbollah that threaten Israel”. “We give the support that is needed for effective Israeli actions to protect itself, and in protecting itself it is protecting all neighbors of Assad: Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon”, he added. Jeffry also maintained that “our policy is that all Iranian-commanded forces have to leave Syria, along with frankly all other military forces that entered after 2011. This includes the U.S., if all of the reports are correct about the Israeli Air Force that would include the Israelis, and it would include the Turks… The Russians entered before 2011, therefore they are exempt”. View More 1 May 2020 Syrian state media reported that Israeli helicopters “launched an aggression… with a number of missiles, from over the occupied Syrian Golan, on sites in the southern region”. Later in the day, a Syrian “military source” was quoted as saying that “successive explosions were heard at a military position in the city of Homs”, attributed “to human error during the transportation of some ammunition”. View More 27 April 2020 Syrian state media reported that the “air defences… repelled an Israeli missile aggression from over Lebanese airspace, towards Syrian territory”, causing three civilian deaths and three injuries in two sites near Damascus. The strike came one day after Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett indicated: “keep your ears open. We’ve gone from a policy of blocking [Iran] to pushing it out” from Syria. Bennett on 28 April reiterated that “we have moved from blocking Iran’s entrenchment in Syria to forcing it out of there, and we will not stop… we will continue to take the fight to the enemy’s territory”. View More 20 April 2020 Syrian state media reported that “army air defences confronted an Israeli missile aggression over Palmyra, east of Homs, and shot down a number of the hostile missiles”. View More 20 April 2020 Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with President Bashar al-Assad and other senior Syrian officials during a visit to Damascus. Zarif told Assad that “the U.S.’s true intentions have come to light with regards to its refusal to lift unfair sanctions against nations during tough times of fighting” COVID-19, and the two sides discussed bilateral and regional matters including the Astana Peace Process. The U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement, James Jeffrey, reacted to Zarif’s trip by asserting: “if Iran were truly concerned about the health and safety of the Syrian people, it would support the UN-led political process under UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and withdraw IRGC, Hizbollah and other terrorist forces under its command from the entirety of Syria… Iran's only contributions to Syria have been violence and instability”. He went on to stress that “we continue to offer humanitarian assistance to help address the coronavirus outbreak, while the Assad regime, Russia and Iran obstruct aid and starve the Syrian people of food and medicine”. View More 15 April 2020 Citing a Hizbollah official, media reports indicated that “two missiles from an Israeli drone targeted a four-wheel-drive vehicle carrying two members of Lebanon’s Hizbollah… near the Syria-Lebanon border, but neither person was hurt”. View More 10 April 2020 The Israeli military released footage of what it said was a senior Syrian commander “visiting Hizbollah positions in Syria”, adding: “our message: we see you. Consider this a warning. We won’t allow Hizbollah to entrench itself militarily in Syria”. View More 7 April 2020 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued that “Hizbollah has fewer dollars today to engage in nefarious activity than they did when President Trump took office, and they will continue to have fewer dollars tomorrow until they fundamentally get the Iranian regime to change its model”. He further asserted that Iran used its resources “to take weaponry into Iraq, to underwrite Hizbollah and Lebanon and threaten Israel, all of the things that the Iranians have engaged in for so long, even in this [COVID-19] crisis the Iranian regime hasn’t ceased doing, that’s most unfortunate”. Pompeo added: “we hope that the people of Iran one day will get a regime with a change in outlook, a change which says, ‘no, we want to respect what the Iranian people truly want’”. View More 2 April 2020 President Rivlin stressed that “while Iran is receiving the overseas humanitarian aid it needs from some members of the international community, it continues to sow terrorism in Lebanon and Syria and to accelerate its nuclear program. Israel will not permit this reality, even in the current circumstances”. View More 1 April 2020 Syrian state media reported that “Israeli warplanes launched a number of missiles, from over Lebanon, into the direction of eastern Homs… Army air defences intercepted the hostile missiles and shot down a number of them”. View More 17 March 2020 The U.S. designated Syrian “Minister of Defense Lieutenant General Ali Abdullah Ayoub for his deliberate actions since December 2019 to prevent a ceasefire from taking hold in northern Syria”. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remarked that “we stand on the side of the Syrian people. While the Assad regime and its Iranian and Russian enablers continue their illusory quest for a military solution in Syria, we are committed to a peaceful political solution in line with UNSCR 2254”. “We call on all parties to cease their destabilising activities, agree to a nationwide ceasefire and constructively participate in the political process”, Pompeo added. “If they do not, the alternative is clear: they will face increasing economic pressure and diplomatic isolation”. View More 16 March 2020 An Israeli military spokesperson assessed that “there are enemy countries that have been hit much stronger than us by corona [ie, COVID-19] and therefore their activities have decreased”. View More 10 March 2020 Testifying before the House Armed Service Committee, CENTCOM commander Kenneth McKenzie affirmed that “most of the U.S. intelligence community predicts that without sustained pressure levied against it, ISIS has the potential to reconstitute in Iraq and Syria in short order, beyond the current capabilities of the U.S. to neutralise it without a capable, partnered ground force”. On Syria, he recommended that “moving forward, we must continue our support to NATO ally Turkey and our D-ISIS partner force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), while maintaining deconfliction with Russia, which, along with the Assad regime, aggressively challenges the Coalition mission in various ways”. McKenzie further reiterated that “we remain in Iraq at the request of the Government of Iraq for one reason: the defeat of ISIS”, adding that “hindering our ability to work with the Iraqi Security Forces toward this objective [of defeating ISIS] are rogue elements of the Popular Mobilisation Forces more beholden to Iran’s regime than the government of Iraq. Some of these militias smuggle advanced weapons into Iraq from Iran, not to defend the country from ISIS, but to undermine existing security and threaten U.S. and Coalition forces”. McKenzie also indicated that “we are in the process of bringing air defence systems, ballistic missile defence systems into Iraq – particularly to protect ourselves against another potential Iranian attack”. View More 6 March 2020 Iranian media reported the death of a senior IRGC member south of Damascus. View More 5 March 2020 Syrian state media reported that “the army air defences observed an Israeli warplane… launching, from over the Lebanese airspaces, a number of missiles towards the central region”. According to the report, “the air defences confronted the hostile missiles successfully”. View More 3 March 2020 The U.S. “announced $108 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Syria in response to the ongoing crisis caused by Assad regime, Russian, and Iranian forces”. “We join the UN in calling for an immediate ceasefire and halt to the brutal violence in northwest Syria by Assad regime, Russian and Iranian forces”, said the State Department, while expressing U.S. “commitment to a credible and inclusive UN-facilitated political solution pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2254”. View More 2 March 2020 The Israeli military reported that it had “identified an attempted sniper attack from Syria toward the Golan Heights in northern Israel. In response, our soldiers just targeted the vehicle involved in the attempted attack”. View More 28 February 2020 In an interview, Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett asserted that “I have placed a goal that within twelve months Iran will leave Syria... Iran has nothing to look for in Syria. They aren't neighbours, they have no reason to settle next to Israel and we will remove Iran from Syria in the near future”. Bennett also indicated that “if in the past the majority of the targets were against lone convoys that entered Syria from Iran via Iraq and then to the Golan Heights or Lebanon, the targets are now completely different”. View More 27 February 2020 Syrian state media reported one fatality “in an Israeli drone attack” in Quneitra province. Later in the day, Syrian state media reported that “Israeli helicopters launched [a] rocket attack... against the Syrian army posts in Quneitra”, wounding three. View More 23 February 2020 The Israeli military announced it had “struck Islamic Jihad terror targets in both Syria and Gaza in response to rockets fired at Israeli civilians”; Islamic Jihad confirmed two fatalities. Syrian state media reported that “army air defences intercepted… Israeli missiles that targeted the surroundings of Damascus”. View More 18 February 2020 Israeli Minister of Defence Naftali Bennett indicated that “we are seeing the initial indications of Iran weakening and considering a new tack in Syria”. He added that “[Iranians] are sending forces in order to establish a presence there to exhaust us, but we are turning this disadvantage into an advantage. We have intelligence and operational superiority, and we are telling the Iranians clearly: Get out of Syria… we are moving from a defensive position to an offensive position – to weaken, to exhaust, to tire and wear out the head of the octopus [ie, Iran] in order to weaken its arms”. View More 16 February 2020 Prime Minister Netanyahu contended that “the greatest threat to the security of the countries of the Middle East and countries in the world, is the attempt by Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons. Israel will never let Iran acquire nuclear weapons”. Netanyahu went on to say that “we do not let Iran entrench itself militarily right in our backyard, in Syria. We resist that mightily. We take every action that is necessary to prevent that. And I believe we're succeeding. We have taken up arms against a foe that openly calls for Israel's liquidation. Obviously, we're not going to wait”. View More 13 February 2020 Syrian state media reported that “the army observed hostile missiles coming from over the occupied Syrian Golan… the army air defences intercepted and downed a number of them before they reach[ed] their targets”. The following day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked: “I don’t [know] what happened last night… maybe it was the Belgian air force”. View More 12 February 2020 Responding to statements by senior Israeli officials about countering Iran in Syria, Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson asserted that “Iran will not compromise and hesitate for a moment to defend its presence in Syria and also defend its national security and regional interests. Consequently, Iran will give a decisive and crushing response to any aggression or stupid act by the Zionist regime [ie, Israel]”. View More 11 February 2020 Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett assessed that “for years on end, we have fought against the Iranian tentacles in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip, but we have not focused enough on weakening Iran itself. Now we are changing the paradigm, we are now engaged in a continued effort to weaken the Iranian octopus through economic, diplomatic and intelligence measures, as well as with military means and various other approaches”. Bennett further addressed Iran and stated: “you have no business being in Syria, and so long as you continue to build terrorist bases there, we will continue to hurt you even further”. View More 9 February 2020 Referring to Iran’s failed attempt to launch a satellite earlier in the day, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “I’ll tell you what else they’re failing at: in transferring weapons to Syria and Lebanon, because we are operating there all the time, including at this time”. View More 8 February 2020 Israel Defence Minister Naftali Bennett stated that “we are in a process of switching to hurting the head of the octopus – Iran’s power”. “I am not necessarily talking about a full-blown war with Iran tomorrow; it is more similar to the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the U.S., with the two regional powers Israel and Iran”. Bennett also posited that “we have intelligence superiority and aerial superiority” in Syria, and warned that “it is a bad place for Iran to be. Anything they bring there we will immediately strike... we will do more and more so that Syria becomes their Vietnam”. Bennett also indicated that in consultations with his U.S. counterpart “we sorted out the coordination exactly – they’re taking Iraq, and we’re taking Syria”. “We have significantly intensified, including this week, with very strong attacks against Iran, against the Iranian presence, against Iranian bases, against Iranian surface-to-air missiles, against Iranian fighters… in Syria”, he added. “It’s like a contiguous puzzle – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon. Imagine a water pipe, only the water is rockets and terrorism. If you take out a piece of the pipe, then you’ve broken up the contiguity and it dries up”. View More 8 February 2020 Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with the UN Special Envoy for Syria, describing a “political solution as the only way out of the crisis” and underscoring “Tehran's full preparedness for any cooperation within the framework of respecting the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria”. View More 6 February 2020 Syrian state media reported that the country’s “air defences… responded to an Israeli missile attack that targeted the vicinity of Damascus and the southern region, shooting down most of the missiles before reaching their targets”. A Russian military spokesperson subsequently argued that “the Israeli General Staff’s military air operations using passenger jets for cover or [for] blocking of retaliatory fire by Syria missile systems is becoming a typical trait of the Israel Air Force”, and indicated that an “Airbus-320 was escorted out of the danger zone”. Russia’s ambassador to Syria noted that “the Israeli raids are, of course, provocative and very dangerous for the situation in Syria... in addition to the clear violation of Syrian sovereignty and the real threat to the lives of innocent people, all of this increases the possibility of conflict over Syria and runs counter to efforts to achieve stability and a political settlement”. View More 5 February 2020 The U.S. Special Representative for Syria, James Jeffery, affirmed that “we’re not asking for regime change [in Syria] per se”, and indicated that “we believe that Russia could adopt different policies that would meet our minimum requirements… that is, the execution of UN Resolution 2254; joint cooperation to get terrorists, beginning with Daesh [ie, ISIS], enduringly defeated in Syria; and thirdly, Iranian-commanded forces out”. Jeffrey went on to assert that “if there’s a resolution to the [Syrian] civil conflict, then there’s no need for an – Iranian-commanded militias and the thousands or tens of thousands who will be floating around Syria. In particular, with long-range missile systems that you don’t use against the opposition, you use against countries like Israel or countries like Saudi Arabia, or Jordan”. “So those are our requirements; they’re not unreasonable. They don’t require the overthrow of Assad. They require a change in that government’s behaviour”, Jeffrey said. View More 13 January 2020 In a meeting with the Syrian prime minister, Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani emphasised that “as long as terrorist forces of the U.S. stay in the west Asia region, this region will experience no stability, peace or sustainable security… expulsion of the wicked U.S. is possible through unity of regional nations and governments”. View More 2 January 2020 The head of the IRGC's Qods force, Qasem Soleimani, was killed in a U.S. strike in Baghdad. The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed that "at the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani”, adding that "Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region". Iran confirmed Soleimani’s death, and the IRGC said that four other Qods force members along with five Iraqis, notably including a senior Hashd official, were also killed in the operation. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei subsequently asserted that "enemies should bear in mind that the Islamic Republic of Iran will take tough revenge on criminals over the martyrdom of General Soleimani". View More 26 December 2019 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with the Russian president about “Iran and the situation in Syria”, according to Netanyahu’s office. View More 25 December 2019 Israel’s military chief of staff assessed that “there is a possibility that we will face a limited confrontation with Iran and we are preparing for it”. He went on to assert that “we will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria, or in Iraq… Iraq is undergoing a civil war, when the Qods force is operating there on a daily basis, when the country itself has turned into an ungoverned area. Advanced weapons are being smuggled by the Qods force in Iraq on a monthly basis and we can’t allow that”. View More 23 December 2019 Syrian state media reported that “army air defences intercepted hostile missiles coming from the occupied lands [ie, Israel]… one of the hostile targets fell in Aqraba region in Damascus countryside”. The Lebanese defence minister subsequently asserted that “this blatant attack is condemned, and I call on the international community to intervene to prevent these repeated attacks on Lebanon’s sovereignty”. A senior advisor to Iran’s supreme leader warned that “Israeli airstrikes against Syria will not go unanswered, and Tel Aviv will regret having committed these crimes… Sooner or later, Israel will receive a response for its aerial attacks on and crimes in Syria”. View More 20 December 2019 President Trump signed the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019” (the Caesar Act). In a statement, Secretary of State Pompeo indicated that the act “provides the U.S. tools to help end the horrific and ongoing conflict in Syria by promoting accountability for the Assad regime. It also holds accountable those responsible for the widespread death of civilians and for numerous atrocities including the use of chemical weapons and other barbaric weapons”. Pompeo added that “the law provides for sanctions and travel restrictions on those who provide support to members of the Assad regime, in addition to Syrian and international enablers who have been responsible for, or complicit in serious human rights abuses in Syria”. View More 17 December 2019 Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett contended that “the ayatollahs in Iran send us their tentacles in an effort to terrorise the citizens of Israel. The more Iran tries to establish itself on Syrian soil, the deeper it will sink in the Syrian sands. Syria is increasingly becoming Iran's Vietnam”. He went on to assert that “we will increase the pressure, Iran has nothing to look for on Syrian soil. We will continue to protect the country's borders”. View More 16 December 2019 Israel’s military chief of staff noted that “the IDF is fighting and operating daily and nightly on numerous fronts, which have grown in number recently, and the number of enemies is greater than the number of fronts. In Syria, for example, the [Iranian] Qods force and Hizbollah are operating, and in Lebanon, Iran's terrorist tentacles are solidifying their grip. He added that “any organisation, and especially the IDF, cannot be satisfied with maintaining and preserving the status quo. The IDF must change and innovate to beat its enemies to the punch and develop a significant advantage”. View More 14 December 2019 Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah asserted that “the Americans assumed that the Lebanese protests are against Hizbollah and Iran, knowing that they did not propose anything like that. Their slogans were economic and righteous ones”. He added that “Hizbollah is a great threat. A threat on U.S. agendas and interests not on the Lebanese interests”. Nasrallah further maintained that “some think that if Iran was attacked it will refer to its allies to defend it, and let me correct this misconception and assure that Iran will defend itself by itself, it will not stay silent and will not accept to be defended by anyone… If its allies wanted to take action, that would be their own decision”. Prime Minister Netanyahu subsequently said: “I would like to make it clear that if Nasrallah dares to attack Israel, the organisation and the Lebanese state that enable aggression from its territory against us will pay a very heavy price”. View More 8 December 2019 Israel’s defence minister remarked that “we are telling the Iranians: Syria will become your Vietnam… If you don’t leave, you will become entrenched and you will bleed because we will work without hesitation to remove aggressive forces from Syria”. In related remarks, the Israeli foreign minister asserted that “dialogue with Bashar Assad cannot be resumed as long as Syria allows Iran to use its territory against Israel and moderate Arab states”. View More 8 December 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated that “we are leading a relentless effort for sanctions on Iran, pressure on Iran, opposition to Iran and active and military opposition to its attempts to entrench on our border”. View More 6 December 2019 Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, indicated that “we will not allow Iran to produce or obtain nuclear weapons. If the only option left to us is the military option, we’ll act militarily”. He went on to assert that “the actions against Saudi Arabia [on September 14] and the oil tankers make us understand that Iran still feels strong. Our intelligence information tells us that it intends to hit the Gulf countries again. The threat of sanctions is not enough. The only deterrent is a military threat directed against the regime”. “U.S. pressure and sanctions are effective”, Katz added. “We expect Iran’s attempts to procure nuclear weapons and support terrorist groups to decline, but this will be easier if there is support from European countries. As long as the Iranians delude themselves that they have the support of Europe, it will be more difficult for them to bend”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson subsequently reacted by stating that “we regard the threats made by the Israeli regime as a sign for its weakness and its effort to conceal the crisis its leaders are facing presently”. View More 4 December 2019 Speaking alongside U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Prime Minister Netanyahu remarked that “we have been fortunate that President Trump has led a consistent policy of pressure against Iran. Iran is increasing its aggression as we speak even today in the region. They’re trying to have staging grounds against us and the region from Iran itself, from Iraq, from Syria, from Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen, and we are actively engaged in countering that aggression”. Netanyahu further maintained that “Iran’s aggression is growing, but its empire is tottering. And I say let’s make it totter even further”. Secretary Pompeo, citing unrest in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran, stated that “some of these are people that are seeking freedom and a reasonable way to live, and they recognise the threat that is posed by the kleptocrats that are running the Islamic Republic of Iran”. View More 29 November 2019 Discussing Iran’s presence in Syria, the Israeli defence minister asserted that “if we do not act today and take advantage of the window of opportunity, in the more distant future, the risk will be greater, and they will paralyse us because of the military capability that is going to develop. More offensive military action alongside increased U.S. economic sanctions and political pressure, these are the things that could get Iran out of Syria”. View More 24 November 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that “Iran’s aggression in our region, and against us, continues. We are taking all necessary actions to prevent Iran from entrenching here in our region. This includes the activity necessary to thwart the transfer of lethal weaponry from Iran to Syria, whether by air or overland”. “We will also take action to thwart Iran's effort to turn Iraq and Yemen into bases for launching rockets and missiles against the State of Israel”, he added. Citing remarks by a senior U.S. defence official who had indicated that “it is very possible they [the Iranians] will attack again”, Netanyahu stated that “I can confirm that and I can also confirm to you that we are continuing our plans to thwart this aggression by various means”. View More 20 November 2019 The Israeli military announced that it had "carried out wide-scale strikes of Iranian Qods force and Syrian Armed Forces targets in Syria in response to the rockets fired at Israel by an Iranian force in Syria", adding that "we will continue operating firmly and for as long as necessary against the Iranian entrenchment in Syria". Commenting on the action, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that "I have made clear that whoever hurts us - we will hurt him... we will continue to vigorously maintain the security of Israel". Israel's defence minister, Naftali Bennett, declared that "our message to the leaders of Iran is simple: You are not immune anymore. Wherever you send your octopus tentacles, we will hack them off". View More 19 November 2019 The IDF reported that “four launches were identified from Syria toward northern Israel… all four were intercepted in the sky by Israeli air defence systems”. Israel's foreign minister subsequently contended that “this incident is an Iranian operation against the State of Israel… The State of Israel will continue to act according to its policy. The policy was and remains to prevent Iran from establishing itself in the area”. He further assessed that “the Iranian threat exists, but is less than what it used to be… Iran is suffering greatly from the American sanctions”. View More 14 November 2019 Discussing “Operation Black Belt” in Gaza, Israel’s military spokesperson indicated that “we are at a high readiness and preparedness on all fronts, not only in Gaza. We are facing a significant challenge against Iranian activity in a variety of arenas and not only in Syria”. He also noted that “this operation in Gaza was a window of opportunity and the IDF must now concentrate on the northern border”. View More 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".