TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards al-Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, Wednesday to stay out of Israel’s upcoming elections and instead worry about “the state of Iranian bases that he is trying to set up in Syria.”
Netanyahu’s remarks came in response to a Kuwaiti report in which Soleimani is said to have told Iranian officials that attacking Israel deep inside its territory could topple the prime minister in the April 9 elections.
Soleimani told Iranian leaders at a meeting with the Islamic Republic’s Supreme National Security Council that Netanyahu will only risk taking action along the Israeli-Syrian border if it will improve his chances in the elections.
The Iranian general also called for his forces in Syria to adopt a policy of launching three retaliatory missiles in response to every Israeli airstrike, al-Jarida reported.
“Instead of intervening in the elections, Soleimani should look at the state of the Iranian bases he is trying to establish in Syria,” Netanyahu tweeted, in reference to recent IAF strikes on Iranian facilities and weapons depots.
The prime minister added that he would “continue to fight against [Iran] as long as I am prime minister.”
Israel conducted three waves of strikes in the predawn hours of Monday against Iranian weapons warehouses, intelligence sites and a training camp near Damascus Airport that saw 21 people killed, 12 of whom were Iranian fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The raids, which in a rare move were confirmed by the IDF on Monday, came in response to what the army claimed was a “premeditated” missile attack on Israel on Sunday that was meant as a warning from Tehran against further strikes.
The Israel Air Force also targeted Syrian air defense systems that shot at Israeli fighter jets, including a Russian-made Pansir S-1 battery, the army stated.
“We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory,” a military statement said. “We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory.”
“During the attack, dozens of Syrian surface-to-air missiles were fired, despite the clear warnings expressed [by Israel] to refrain from attacking. As a result, a number of Syrian air defense batteries were also attacked,” the statement added.
Sunday’s overnight raid destroyed one of Iran’s largest weapons storehouses — “the main storage hub for Quds Force” — near Damascus International Airport, the army said.