A senior Iranian official stressed on Saturday that his country will keep working with Syria against “the Zionist regime of Israel”.
Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told the Tasnim news agency that Iran is in Syria at the request of the government in Damascus.
Shamkhani claimed that Iran provides “advisory help” for Syria in the fight against terrorism at the request of the Damascus government and with the purpose of supporting the country and its people.
“We have accomplished more than 90 percent of our objectives. Thus, the Israeli punitive strikes (on Syria) have had no strategic impact and the resistance has pressed ahead with its activities,” he claimed.
“Israel is clearly taking steps to serve the interests of terrorists and to counter the Syrian government and army,” said Shamkhani, adding that Israel “crossed the red line” by targeting the equipment and forces of Iran and the resistance front in a series of strikes against Syria.
“Accordingly, we severely responded to the (Israeli) attack on T-4 (airbase in Syria) and dealt a heavy blow to them (Zionists). We have made arrangements to protect our red line in the area of human casualties caused by any act of aggression and invasion,” he added.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes on targets linked to Iran in Syria. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently broke with his country’s long-standing policy of not publicly accepting responsibility for airstrikes in Syria, and acknowledged that Israel’s air force had attacked Iranian targets in Syria.
While Iranian leaders deny that the Islamic Republic has a military presence in Syria, Iran is a key supporter of the Assad regime in Syria, having providing the regime with both financial aid and military advisers against a range of opposing forces since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
Near the start of the Syrian civil war, it was reported that then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had personally sanctioned the dispatch of officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to fight alongside Assad’s troops.
Ali Akbar Velayati, a top aide to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made clear last summer that Iran would withdraw its “military advisers” from Syria and Iraq only if their governments wanted it to.