On Friday, Pentagon officials disclosed that US satellites, surveillance aircraft, drones and ships had stepped up operations to monitor the movement of suspected Iranian anti-air and ballistic missiles inside Syria “due to rising concerns they could be used to strike Israel in the coming days.”
“I can see how it might start, but I am not sure when or where. I think it’s very likely in Syria, because Iran continues to do its proxy work there through Hizballah." He then added: Israel “will not wait to see those missiles in the air and we hope Iran would pull back.”
Secretary of Defense Mattis - 4/26/2018
The US will relocate its military operations to Iraq and the Mediterranean, after drawing down its troops in Syria, Defense Secretary James Mattis disclosed to Congress on Thursday, April 26.
“Right now we are not withdrawing US troops from Syria,” Mattis said. “You’ll see increased operations on the Iraqi side of the border and the French just reinforced us in Syria with special forces here in the last two weeks. This is an ongoing fight right now,” he said.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman traveled to Washington this week, two days after Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command, visited Israel. At his meetings with Secretary Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton, he asked the administration to consider holding off on the troop withdrawal for now.
There was no official word on the outcome of the Mattis-Lieberman interview on Thursday. But its content was reflected in comments Mattis made to the Senate Armed Forces Committee later that day. He said he believes a military confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syria is becoming increasingly likely.
He flatly accused Iran of not only expanding and strengthening its presence in Syria but also “bringing advanced weapons for Hizballah through Syria.”
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