The deputy commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards today threatened to annihilate Israel in an apparent reaction to the latest Israeli military strikes against Syrian and Iranian military targets in Syria. “Listen! Any war that occurs will result in your annihilation,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami said in a speech to thousands of worshipers at the Friday Prayer in Tehran. “You have no escape route but to the sea. Don’t reply on your air bases. They are within the range [of our missiles] and will be made unusable in no time,” he added. The IRGC’s second-in-command pointed out that the Iranian-led “resistance front” in the region is more powerful than any time in the past and stressed that any future wars with Israel will not be short-lived but will continue until Israel is wiped out. “We know you very well. You’re very vulnerable. You have no depth or rearguard… Every spot in your occupied territory is an intersection of fire, from the north to the west. This is a new phenomenon. You don’t have a way to escape and live in the dragon’s mouth.”
The Iranian general also cautioned Israel against relying on American or European support. “Don’t count on America, Britain and France. They will reach at a time when you are nonexistent, like an ambulance reaches a death person only to take him to the cemetery. Therefore, you should watch out your actions and do not make dangerous calculations,” Salami warned.
The IRGC commander also emphasized that Tehran will continue to support “resistance” forces in the region and develop its missile program in defiance of Western pressure. “Is it logical that we disarm ourselves at a time when you’re threatening us? No, this is not possible. Take this aspiration to the grave.”
Comment: The April 9 suspected Israeli air strikes on Syria’s T-4 air base has heightened tension between Tehran and Tel Aviv to a new level. At least seven Iranian military personnel were killed in the attack and Iranian political and military leaders have vowed revenge. Iran’s Foreign Ministry said this week that the Iranian-led “resistance forces” will punish Israel for the strikes. Ali Akbar Velayati, a top advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, echoed a similar warning to Israel during his latest trip to Damascus. “This crime will certainly not go unanswered,” he told reporters in Syria.
While Iran and Israeli often use threatening rhetoric against each other, Israeli officials appear to be taking Iran’s warnings seriously this time. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a special cabinet session after the strikes, reportedly to discuss the possibility of an Iranian retaliation. And earlier today, the Israeli leader said the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are ready to defend the country from any Iranian response. “We hear the threats from Iran. The IDF and the security forces are ready for any development. We will fight whoever tries to harm us. We will not shy away from the price and we will exact a price from those who want to hurt us. The IDF is ready for the job and the people will stand strong.”
According to the Times of Israel, Salami’s statement may also be a response to the IDF providing the Israeli media a map showing five Iranian-controlled bases in Syria, which the Israeli military see as potential targets.
The latest escalation indicates that a collision between Iran and Israel in post-ISIS Syria may be inevitable in the near future.