World Bulletin / News Desk
ISIL has not yet challenged Israeli borders but Tel Aviv is concerned Iran-backed Hezbollah will seize an opportunity to go on the offensive against Israel because of the Syrian crisis, Israel’s defense chief said Wednesday.
“So far, so good. But our main worry, regarding the situation in Syria … is Iranian Revolutionary Guard- backed factions, proxies, trying to open or to renew a terror front against us from the Golan Heights,” Moshe Ya’alon said during a press conference at the Pentagon alongside his U.S. counterpart Ash Carter.
The Golan Heights is a decades-long disputed area between Syria and Israel that is currently under Israeli control.
Ya’alon said Tel Aviv does not intervene in Syria as long as Israeli red lines are not crossed.
“We do keep our well-done three redlines: not to allow any violation of our sovereignty, not to allow a delivery of advanced weapons to rogue elements in the region, as well as chemical weapons or agents to rogue elements in the region.”
Ya’alon’s comments, however, contradict reports of Israeli jets on multiple occasions having struck undisclosed targets inside Syria since the civil war began in 2011.
He said Russian jets have struck just 17 ISIL targets while the rest of the strikes have been against other opposition groups.
Israel does not coordinate with Russia on Syria, and the two countries operate independently. “What we did is taking safety measures, precautions to avoid any conflict between us and them,” he said. “We do not intervene in their activities, they don't intervene in our activities. We are free to operate in order to keep our interests,” he added.
Thanks to Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad forces, alongside as many as 2,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps troops and 800 Hezbollah militants, a ground offensive has been launched on Western Syrian provinces including Aleppo, Homs, Hama and Idlib, he said, but warned that those efforts would not help end the war in Syria.
“It's not going to conclude the civil war in Syria whatsoever,” he said. “I can't see, in the near future -- I would say, unfortunately -- a political settlement to put an end to this civil war. I can't see it.”
Asked whether the U.S. has sought European help to support ground operations in Syria by arming opposition groups, Carter said Europe has a greater stake in the conflict, citing the current refugee crisis and fear of ISIL infiltrating the continent.
He also said the U.S. and European leaders have made commitments to defending Turkey’s territorial integrity under NATO, but he has not had discussions with the EU about support for American activities in fighting ISIL.Last Mod: 29 Ekim 2015, 09:08