TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday warned Iran to “get out of Syria” unless it wanted to continue being attacked by Israel.
“I’m telling you, get out of there fast. We won’t stop attacking,” he said at the swearing-in ceremony for incoming IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
He also charged an Iranian official with lying when he claimed that the Iranian military presence in Syria was limited to an advisory position and helping the Assad regime fight terrorists.
“They always lie. They are lying with that and they are lying when they say their attempt to launch a satellite into space failed,” Netanyahu said, referring to reports of an unsuccessful Iranian satellite launch.
On Monday, Spokesman Bahram Qasemi said Iran had no military presence in Syria, and was only in the embattled country “at the request of the Syrian government for advisory mission and fighting the terrorists,” according to a report by Iran’s official news agency IRNA. Qasemi also said there were no Iranian bases in Syria.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi told Iranian state television that the rocket carrying the satellite dubbed “Payam” failed to reach the “necessary speed” to go into orbit.
Netanyahu charged Iran with using its space program to advance its ballistic missile capabilities.
In his address, Netanyahu also thanked outgoing IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot “from the bottom of my heart” for his contribution to the country, including preventing Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria and overseeing the army’s recent Operation Northern Shield, which located and destroyed Hezbollah’s cross-border attack tunnels.
Eisenkot said that while Israel’s enemies have become more sophisticated, the IDF is more advanced than ever before.
“The IDF is Israel’s most precious asset,” Eisenkot said.
Kochavi, who is Israel’s 22nd IDF chief, said the army was “ready for all tasks” in the future.
“The national home is a wonderful creation like no other in the history of nations, but it is planted in a region that for religious and national reasons is trying to reject its natural roots. To defend our national home, we need a sobered outlook, a fit military force, the willingness to use that force, discretion, and determination,” he said.
“Like every soldier in his swear-in ceremony, I vowed at the time to dedicate all of my efforts to defending the homeland. Now, as the head of the General Staff, while I have national security and the good of the state before me, I make a new vow. There is much work to be done, good luck to us all,” Kochavi added.