TEL AVIV – A senior Iranian official said Monday that Tehran’s retaliatory strike against the Islamic State in Syria was also a warning to Israel, and the Jewish state has “reason to worry.”
“I think (Israel) understood the message … it now has to worry” about every move it makes, Sheikh Hussein al-Islam, an advisor to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said in an interview with the Al-Miyadin TV station. Al-Islam added that Sunday’s missile attack, which marked the first of its kind from Tehran on foreign soil in over three decades, proved the strength of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Iran, the sheikh said, “will not allow terrorism to determine the future of the region.” Al-Islam also issued a warning to Washington saying that “the presence of Americans in the region is illegal” and added that the “U.S. should leave Syria sooner or later.”
In a veiled reference to supposed Israeli support for terror groups such as IS, al-Islam continued, “We are targeting terrorists only, and the countries that support them must know what it means when we use these missiles.”
Al-Islam’s comments echo those made by General Ramezan Sharif who said the IRGC’s missile operation “Laylat al-Qadr” was “only a tiny example of Iran’s punitive power over the terrorists and enemies.” He added, “Regional and international sponsors of terrorists must understand the warning message of the missile operation.”
Al-Islam’s declaration that the missiles launched were “100 percent accurate” contradicts Israeli reports that said out of four or five missiles launched into the Deir ez-Zor region of eastern Syria on Sunday – a province housing IS militants – only one actually hit its target.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday responded by issuing a counter-warning to Iran.
“We, the IDF and our security forces, are monitoring all the time Iran’s activities in the area,” Netanyahu told Likud lawmakers at a party meeting. “These include their attempts to establish themselves in Syria and, of course, to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, and other things. We are tracking their actions and also their words.”
“And I have one message for Iran — don’t threaten Israel,” Netanyahu said.