Iran Threatens Israel, U.S. for 'Lying' About Killing Advisers in Syria

An Iranian military spokesperson has condemned Israel and its allies for "lying" about strikes on Iranian targets in Syria, accusing Tel Aviv of propagating false news as part of a propaganda offensive against Tehran and Damascus.

Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi—a senior spokesperson for the General Staff of the Iranian armed forces—said Thursday Tehran would hit back against Israeli forces for their activities in Syria, where Iranian military advisers are supporting President Bashar al-Assad in the country's interminable civil war.

Israel has adopted the so-called "Octopus doctrine" to push back against Iran in Syria. This means targeting the Iranians directing operations rather than allied Syrian forces—i.e. attacking the head of the octopus rather than its tentacles.

Israeli strikes are thought to have killed dozens of Iranians in Syria in recent years. The attacks often target Iranian-backed militias like Lebanese Hezbollah and regularly kill Syrian regime soldiers.

Shekarchi dismissed Israeli reports of strikes on Iranians, though simultaneously threatened Tel Aviv that continued action will prompt Iranian retaliation.

Referring to Israel and seemingly the U.S., he said: "We warn the Zionist liars and their puppeteers that if they continue their mischief, they will see the upper hand of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the resistance front in action," according to the Tasnim News Agency.

Shekarchi rejected reports of Iranian deaths as part of a "desperate media war, psychological operation, and manufacturing lies." He blamed "the Zionist-Western media empire and its regional affiliates" for what he called propaganda and "hollow muscle-flexing" by Iran's enemies.

While complaining about supposed Israeli fake news, Shekarchi also made the unsubstantiated claim that a 2018 retaliatory Iranian rocket attack on the Golan Heights—disputed territory along the Israel-Syrian border annexed by Israel last year in contravention of international law—killed or injured "a large number" of Israelis.

Israel has publicly committed to fighting Iranian presence in Syria, which is a key pillar of Tehran's strategy to expand its influence across the region. Iranian proxy forces, military advisers, funding and weapons have helped Assad defeat most of his enemies and re-establish control over most of the country.

Iran's involvement in Syria means its forces now sit along the border with Israel, which has long considered the regime in Tehran an existential threat. Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Assad he was "risking the future of your country and your regime" by allowing Iran to gain a foothold in Syria.

Israel, Iran, Syria, US, airstrikes, military, advisers
An Israeli F-35 stealth fighter takes part in an exercise at the Ovda air force base, north of the Israeli city of Eilat, on November 11, 2019. JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images/Getty