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Netanyahu says Israel will continue to take strong actions against Iran in Syria

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Monday for rare talks on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process
RONEN ZVULUN (POOL/AFP/File)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his vow on Thursday that the Iran will not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons and that Israel will continue to take action against Iranian targets in Syria.

"Dangers are all around us – and the Air Force has a central role in thwarting them. The aggression in our region of Iran and its proxies is not fading. Iran has etched on its banner the desire to destroy us. I state unequivocally: We will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. We will continue to take strong action against Iran's plan to turn Syria into a deadly missile base against us,” Netanyahu said in a graduation ceremony for IDF pilots at Hatzerim Air Force Base on Thursday.

The Israeli Prime Minister also addressed the current economic turmoil which Iran finds itself in ever since US President Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal on May 8.

“States and companies are abandoning the Iranian market and the mass demonstrations in Iran show that our efforts to put Iran in its place are bearing fruit. At first we stood alone in our opposition to the bad nuclear agreement with Iran, an agreement which financed its expansionist and aggressive designs. But it is good that we did not slacken because President Trump's historic decision to quit the nuclear agreement is creating a strategic turnaround in Israel's strategic situation,” he said.

Iran's currency has plunged almost 50 percent in value in the past six months, with the US dollar now buying around 85,000 rials on the open market.

Apart from the rial's collapse, the Iranian private sector has long been starved of investment, its banking system is crippled by bad loans and record levels of unemployment mean a third of under-30-year-olds are out of work.

(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

“The Iranian people are feeling in their pockets the consequences of the fundamentalist fanaticism of their rulers. This is in complete contrast to what the international experts said. Not only has the reimposition of sanctions not united the Iranian public around the regime, the complete opposite is happening. Many in Iran understand that the regime of the ayatollahs is wasting precious resources on foreign military subversion instead of investing in civilian needs at home,” Netanyahu said.

“The cash machine of Iran's aggression has been shattered. And we, the IDF, including the Air Force, will continue to take strong action against Iranian targets in the area. We will continue to operate at close and longer ranges, both openly and in secret, against those who seek our lives,” the prime minister concluded in his speech.

Meanwhile, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot arrived in the US on Thursday on an official visit to discuss security challenges in the Middle EAst with Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.

“During the course of the visit, the Chief of the General Staff will conduct a series of meetings in Washington, DC. During the meetings, the parties will discuss military cooperation in light of the significant security challenges in different arenas in the Middle East and other topics,” an official statement from the IDF said.

The US and Israel see eye to eye vis a vis Iran’s actions in the region, especially in Syria.

Russia is also slowly converging its rhetoric with regards to Iran’s troops in Syria, saying all forces, including Iran’s, should leave the war torn country in the future.

However Russia is currently backing Assad’s forces who are fighting against rebels in the southern part of Syria, thus breaching a ceasefire agreement signed by Jordan, Russia and the US last year, which set up “de-escalation zones” in parts of Syria.

Mikhail KLIMENTYEV (SPUTNIK/AFP)

On Thursday, the London-based Arabic-language Al-Hayat newspaper reported that President Trump will demand, during talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next month, a full withdrawal of all Iranian forces from Syria

“If the Putin-Trump summit is held on July 15, its core will be to negotiate Washington’s insistence on Iran’s withdrawal from Syria,” a Western diplomat told the paper, referring to a reported forthcoming meeting between the US and Russian leaders.

The unidentified diplomat also told the paper that Washington had given Israel a “green light” to strike Iranian military assets in Syria as it sees fit.

Unconfirmed media reports say that Russia has also given Israel to strike Iranian targets in Syria, and the diplomat cited by Al-Hayat said that the US assesses that Moscow is unwilling to “pay a heavy price” for Iran’s continued presence in the country.

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