Speaking at the fifth Israel-Greece-Cyprus summit held in the southern city of Beersheba, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to intensify efforts in Syria.
“We will continue to act in Syria to prevent Iran’s efforts to militarily entrench itself against us. We are not reducing our efforts, we will increase our efforts. I know that we do so with the full support and backing of the US”, Netanyahu said.
The prime minister said that he had been warned of the US troop withdrawal from Syria in advance during phone conversations with President Donald Trump on Monday and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday.
Shortly after his speech, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Dannon said that Tel Aviv had its “concerns” about Syria.
“We have our concerns about Syria, about the presence of Iranian troops in Syria and we will do whatever is necessary to protect our people regardless if you have American troops, Russian troops or any other nations. We will continue to follow our policy of not allowing the Iranians to build their bases next to our borders”, Dannon said.
Iran has yet to respond to the Israeli officials’ remarks, but it has repeatedly emphasised that its forces maintain an exclusively advisory presence in Syria, and denied any plans to establish a permanent military presence in the country.
On Wednesday, President Trump took to Twitter to declare victory over Daesh* in Syria amid media reports that he was planning to pull American troops out of the war-torn country.
He then announced the decision to withdraw forces, tweeting that the move “was no surprise”:
In a series of follow-up tweets POTUS reiterated that he had on multiple occasions said that US troops should leave and let “others” take care of Syria
Since 2014, the US-led coalition has been conducting its operations in Syria, without either a UN mandate, or authorisation of the country’s authorities. Damascus has consistently dismissed Washington’s military presence in the country as illegal.