Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that his country would "continue to act aggressively against Iran's attempt to entrench itself in Syria”, the local outlet Haaretz reports. He promised to closely follow the withdrawal’s timing and ensure that Israeli interests are well-guarded.
"In any case, we will make sure to ensure the safety of Israel and protect ourselves from this arena", he stated.
According to Netanyahu, Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed him of their intentions during a phone call on December 17.
"The US administration has told me that it was the president's intention to pull out their troops from Syria. They clarified that they have other ways to wield their influence in that arena”, he said, as cited by Haaretz.
The country’s prime minister also revealed that they are employing “special means” to neutralise the Hezbollah tunnels on the Lebanese border, the IDF believed were intended for staging secret attacks into Israel by the Shiite militant group.
He emphasised that Israel does not “intend to reduce efforts on either of these fronts, we will escalate them, and I know that we do so with the full support and backing of the US”.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon earlier stated that Tel Aviv would stick to combating Iranian troops in Syria even if the US pulls out its forces from the country “to protect our people regardless if you have American troops, Russian troops or any other nations”.
Earlier on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump said that the Daesh* terrorist group had been defeated in Syria after the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that US officials have started telling its partners in the northeastern part of the Middle Eastern state about plans to immediately pull all American forces out of the area. The White House has said that they have started pulling back forces from Syria but that this does not mark the end of the campaign.
According to Haaretz, Israel was aware of these plans and had tried to gain time over the past year.
Israel traditionally views Iran as its main opponent in the Middle East region and is concerned over the presence of Iranian military instructors as well as the Hezbollah Shia movement, backed by Tehran, in neighbouring Syria.
*A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.