(Bloomberg) -- Israel will do whatever it takes to wipe out Iranian military capabilities in Syria, even if that means targeting heavily populated neighborhoods, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for public diplomacy, laid out four “red lines” that would prompt his country to strike Iranian targets in neighboring Syria. If Iran tries to build underground factories to upgrade less sophisticated missiles to precision-guided weapons, Israel will stop them, “even if those factories are beneath densely populated areas,” he told a group of foreign journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Israel also won’t tolerate Iranian attempts to equip its proxy Lebanese militia Hezbollah with precision-guided missiles or to build an air base or naval port in Syria, Oren said. And it will attack Syria or Iran if fired at, he added.
Israel has repeatedly struck targets within Syria in the course of that country’s seven-year civil war, and has vowed to keep Iran from establishing a permanent base there. It has declined to comment on unclaimed missile attacks late Sunday that targeted an Iranian army base containing artillery in Hama, and a military airport in Aleppo.
The Haaretz daily reported that Israel has made clear to Russia and the U.S. that it will strike back if Iran attempts to attack it from Syrian territory, and will return fire in Iran if Israeli population centers are hit. The newspaper cited unidentified security and political officials.
“Israel is committed to enforcing and holding its red lines,” Oren said. “If that leads to an escalation, it will be on the heads of Iran and not the state of Israel. We have to defend ourselves.”
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