Iranian media released photos of an Iranian general with binoculars on the Israeli-Syrian border, marking Iran’s first public recognition of an official presence on the border and a provocative warning to Israel to stop interfering in Syria.
Iran’s photos mark an escalation in moves between the two countries, and are a likely response to recent Israeli military operations against Syria. Israel revealed July 17 it recently fired two patriot missiles at a Syrian drone that flew into its territory. Israel also bombed two Syrian army targets July 4 after the Syrian military encroached on Israeli territory in the Golan heights.
The United States sanctioned the pictured Iranian General in 2011 “for being responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses in Iran.” The general is a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a paramilitary organization that answers directly to the Supreme leader of Iran. The IRGC is the prime sponsor of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, and Iraqi militias that killed U.S. troops during the U.S occupation of Iraq.
Iran, along with Russia, is the primary sponsor of the Assad regime in Syria. Iran hopes to preserve the Shiite Assad regime as a bulwark against Saudi influence in the Middle East. Iran’s Supreme Leader and government has consistently called for Israel’s destruction, and the direct Iranian military presence on the Israeli border causes concerns for Israel’s security. One of the remaining mottos of Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979 is “Allah is Great. Death to America. Death to Israel. A curse upon the Jews. Victory to Islam.”
Iran is also the prime sponsor of Lebanese terrorist group, Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a shiite terrorist organization that is fighting inside Syria alongside the Assad regime. Hezbollah’s significant presence in Lebanon represents a potential Iranian encirclement of Israel. In 2006, Hezbollah launched hundreds of rockets into Israel sparking a war that killed 165 Israeli’s. Hezbollah militias and commanders have been spotted along the Israeli-Syrian border, sparking concerns it may be using the Syrian civil war to conduct reconnaissance on Israel.
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