An Israeli Minister threatened to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday in a sharp increase in Israeli rhetoric over Iran’s military presence in Syria.
“If Assad allows Iran to turn Syria into a military base against us to attack us from Syrian territory, he needs to know that this is his end, this is the end of his regime,’’ Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview with the Ynet news site.
“He cannot remain the president of Syria, ruler of Syria, if he allows states – principally Iran – to turn Syria into a base to attack Israel,’’ he added.
The minister’s comments come as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned with increasingly bellicose rhetoric that Israel would not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria as the civil war there winds down.
On Sunday Netanyahu said that a confrontation with Iran over Syria is “better now than later.’’
“Nations that were unwilling to act in time against murderous aggression against them later paid much heavier prices,’’ he said.
Iran says it is acting in Syria at the behest of the Syrian government.
Steinitz’s statements come ahead of a May 12, deadline for U.S. President Donald Trump to reinstate sanctions on Iran, possibly spelling an end to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.