TEL AVIV – Iran is closing a deal with Syrian President Bashar Assad to build a military base at the port of Latakia in Syria, an Israeli diplomatic official told the Hebrew news site Walla on Friday.
The naval base would act as payment for Iran’s support of Assad over the past six years of civil war, the unnamed official said.
According to the report, establishing an Iranian military presence on the Mediterranean Sea would be viewed by Israel as a “radical step” that would “heighten the instability in the region and advance terror” against the Jewish state. Such a measure would also increase the threat to the Israeli home front since it would strengthen the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah, which is currently fighting in Syria.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu relayed his concerns about Iran’s intentions to build a naval base in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
“I spoke with President Putin at length about the strategic significance of Iran’s creating a permanent presence in Syria, or its attempt to do so,” he said in a press briefing following their meeting, adding that an Iranian presence in Syria would be against the “long-term interests of everyone except the Iranians.”
“I said that it would undermine the stability, and actually hurt the possibility of a diplomatic arrangement [for Syria]. I made it clear that it is something that will be unacceptable to the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu said he believed Putin was receptive to his concerns.
“I made it clear to President Putin our resolute opposition to the consolidation of Iran and its proxies in Syria,” the prime minister said. “We see Iran trying to build a military force, military infrastructure, with the intention to be based in Syria, including the attempt by Iran to build a seaport. All this has serious implications in terms of Israel’s security.”