Iranian Official: Israel Will Be First Victim of U.S. Strike in Syria
by Joshua Levitt
A senior member of Iran’s parliament said on Monday that a U.S. attack on Syria was unlikely, but if it were to occur, Israel would be the first victim of ensuing violence, Iran’s national FARS news agency reported.
“No military attack will be waged against Syria,” Director-General of the parliament for International Affairs Hossein Sheikholeslam said. “Yet, if such an incident takes place, which is impossible, the Zionist regime will be the first victim of a military attack on Syria.”
Sheikholeslam claimed that the Syrian army is highly capable of defending itself against military action, and that it could attack and raze parts of Israel, which he said, would not be in the interest of the U.S.
FARS also cited Mohammad Esmayeeli, member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, who said the U.S. is not ready for another war, but if it declared war on Syria, it would also have to contend with Russia, which he claimed, will support Damascus.
“The U.S. as well as the western and Arab states and certain regional countries are beating the drums of war, but they should know that this is not to their benefit,” Esmayeeli said. “If [it] starts a war with Syria, the U.S. will not achieve its desired and needed results… Russia will likely stand up to these threats.”
On Sunday, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, began a three-day emergency meeting of defense chiefs from 10 nations in Amman, Jordan, to discuss implications of the ongoing civil war in Syria, and reports of chemical weapons use by the embattled regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. The meeting is co-hosted by Jordan’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Mishaal Zaben, and includes top generals from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Canada.
According to U.S. Army newspaper Stars and Stripes, the U.S. has some 1,000 troops based in Jordan, including a headquarters unit, an F-16 fighter detachment at the Mafraq air base, as well as Patriot anti-missile systems at two sites in the kingdom. In addition, the USS Kearsarge, a Marine amphibious assault ship, is reported to be approaching Jordan’s only port of Aqaba. The U.S. Navy has also deployed an extra destroyer to the eastern Mediterranean, bringing to four the number of warships in the area capable of firing cruise missiles against land targets, Stars and Stripes said.
Stars and Stripes said the Jordanian military, which boasts 120,000 troops, has deployed many of its combat units to its northern border with Syria in an effort to prevent a spillover of the ongoing fighting between rebel groups, and the regime of President Assad. Jordanian officials said about 560,000 Syrians have already fled across the frontier.