Iran may use its increasing clout in Iraq as something that will help Tehran attack Israel, according to the Jewish state's military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Tamir Hyman.
"Iraq is under growing influence of the [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps'] Quds Force and Iran", The Times of Israel quoted Hyman as saying during a Tel Aviv press conference.
He claimed that Iran could "see Iraq as a convenient theatre for entrenchment, like what they did in Syria, and to use it as a platform for a force build-up that could also threaten the State of Israel."
The remarks came after Reuters cited Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi as saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad had met Iraqi security officials in Damascus last week. Mahdi also reportedly hinted at a bigger Iraqi role in tackling Daesh* militants amid the withdrawal of US troops.
In September, Reuters reported, citing a number of different sources, that Iran had been delivering short-range ballistic missiles to its Shiite allies in Iraq and helping the groups to start producing their own over the past few months. The Iranian Foreign Ministry rejected the reports as "unacceptable and false".
In another development, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week reaffirmed Tel Aviv's commitment to countering Iran in Syria despite the US withdrawal from the region.
Netanyahu's words were echoed by Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who assured that the country will "do everything to prevent Iran from gaining [a] foothold in Syria".
Iran denies having a military presence in Syria, with the exception of a team of military advisers, which were requested by Damascus.
The US announced the withdrawal of its forces from Syria on December 19. President Donald Trump noted that since defeating Daesh was the key goal of the US military in the Arab country, the troops must now return home after the terrorists were allegedly defeated.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.