US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Highlights Iranian Threat on Israel’s Borders
The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, has issued a stark warning about Iran’s military presence on Israel’s borders.
Speaking during a visit to Israel this week for meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top defense officials, Dunford pointed to the recent talks in Astana that resulted in an agreement between the Russian, Turkish and Iranian governments on the creation of so-called “peace zones” in western and southern Syria.
One of these zones would be located in rebel-held territory along the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights.
“The primary concern would be Iranian influence, Lebanese Hezbollah influence, along the border,” Dunford said. He added that he shared Israel’s worries about advanced weapons falling into in the hands of Hezbollah, which Dunford called “a major conventional force.”
In recent years, Israel has reportedly conducted numerous air strikes in Syria aimed at interdicting weapons transfers from Iran to its Hezbollah proxy. Jerusalem has an understanding with the authorities in Moscow that it can strike against weapons supply convoys. The Russian Air Force is heavily involved in supporting the regime of the Damascus-based dictator, Bashar Assad, who also has significant Iranian and Hezbollah forces at his disposal on the ground.
Dunford’s comments came a few days after Yisrael Katz, Israel’s minister for transportation and intelligence, issued a five-point plan based on escalating Israeli concerns with the regional threats posed by Iran, as well as Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. The plan includes a call on the US to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel gained control of from Syria during the June 1967 Six-Day War. The Golan, Katz said, is an “indivisible part of the State of Israel.”