i24NEWS – A senior Israeli official said Thursday they were “in shock” over President Donald Trump’s remarks appearing to give Iran a free hand to “do what they want” in Syria after the withdrawal of US troops.
Israel has long warned that Iran was seeking to use its intervention in Syria to consolidate a permanent military presence on its northern borders and form a contiguous “land bridge” across the Middle East controlled by its various proxies.Trump’s surprise announcement that it was pulling all of its 2,000 troops from the country sparked concern in Israel over whether Iran would be left with free rein to operate there and whether Russia would respond to its calls to limit it.“I am quite simply in shock,” the unnamed Israeli official said, according to a report by the Ynet news website published Thursday.
“Trump simply does not know what is happening in Syria and the Iranian entrenchment there.”“It is sad that he is not attentive to intelligence materials,” the source added.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers have not yet responded publicly to Trump’s remarks, in which he appeared indifferent to Iran’s post-US withdrawal plans for Syria.”Iran can do what they want in Syria, frankly” Trump said during a cabinet meeting Wednesday.
Trump, who has dismissed concern that the move would compromise Israel’s security gave a bleak outlook on the situation in Syria summing it up in two words — “sand and death”.His comments came a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the decision to pull American troops from Syria “in no way changes anything this administration is working on alongside Israel.
”“Our efforts to counter Iranian aggression continues, and our commitment to Middle East stability and protection of Israel. We will continue the same way as before this decision was made,” Pompeo said in a press conference alongside Netanyahu.A senior Israeli official told reporters that Netanyahu had left closed-door talks with Pompeo in Brasilia feeling as though Israel has “influence” in certain areas of American policy, particularly with regards to Syria.
“The prime minister left the meeting with a feeling that Israel has influence in certain areas and that Israel and the United States are working on various ideas regarding Syria that will help Israel,” the official told reporters aboard Netanayhu’s plane as it returned from Brazil.Israel has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of air strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian military targets and advanced weapons deliveries to Hezbollah.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed in the wake of Trump’s surprise announcement that his country would “intensify” its efforts to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria, and that it would do so with “the full support and backing of the US”.