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The Times of Israel– Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday said Israel was upping its efforts to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria.
“As long as Iran tries to establish itself on Syrian soil, it will sink in the sand dunes of Syria,” Bennett said, according to a statement from his office.
The defense minister was speaking in the Golan Heights, after observing a military exercise alongside IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi.
“We are increasing the pressure,” Bennett said, without elaborating. “Iran has nothing to look for on Syrian soil.”
Bennett, who was appointed interim defense minister last month, has warned Iran a number of times over its military activities in Syria since taking office.
Israel has repeatedly said it will not accept Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and that it will retaliate for any attack on the Jewish state from the neighboring country.
Though it does not generally comment on specific attacks, Israel has admitted to carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets over the last several years. Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel’s northern neighbor, and supports Hezbollah and Gaza terrorists.
Israel has also reportedly carried out a number of recent airstrikes in Iraq on Iranian-linked targets.
Last week, an Israeli intelligence firm released photographs of what it said is an Iranian tunnel being dug along the Syria-Iraq border to assist in the movement of weapons throughout the Middle East.
According to the private satellite image analysis company ImageSat International, the tunnel is likely being used to store Iranian missiles en route to Tehran’s proxies throughout the region.
The tunnel, whose entrance can be seen in satellite images, is located on a suspected Iranian military base, known as the Imam Ali base, in Syria’s Boukamal region, near the Iraqi border. The base has been the site of several Israeli airstrikes in the past year, including some earlier this month, according to Syrian media.
ImageSat said the tunnel appears to have been built in response to these airstrikes, as a means to protect high-quality munitions from Israeli attacks.
The release of the photos was seen as a tacit threat, as in some past cases suspected areas of Iranian military entrenchment have been identified and publicized by ImageSat International shortly before the sites were targeted in airstrikes attributed to Israel.