Iran Does Not Want 'New Tensions' in Mideast, Says Rouhani

Iran Does Not Want 'New Tensions' in Mideast, Says Rouhani

"[There are] a variety of groups that could possibly strike Israel on its behalf, such as one of the many new "Syrian Hezbollah" groups integrated into the registers of the Syrian armed forces, or one of the Iraqi groups that emerged during the war, like Harakat al-Nujaba and its 'Golan Liberation Brigade'".

The strikes came after 20 rockets were fired at Israeli military positions in the occupied Golan Heights overnight, BBC reported.

Here is a look at why the two countries are at each's other throats and why Syria could be the ground for a showdown. It was the most serious military confrontation between Israel and Iran to date and Israel's biggest strike in Syria since the 1973 war. With the war winding down in favor of Assad, Israel - which saw him as the lesser of two evils compared to Islamic hard-liners among rebels - is now finding that his victory has brought Iran closer to its borders.

Since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011, Israel has repeatedly targeted positions of the Syrian army and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement backing it inside the country. Israeli-Iranian confrontation would likely remain limited after Washington abandoned the nuclear deal, but conflict between the two regional powers will flare on in Syria, experts said on Wednesday.

Tehran is wary of a wider military conflagration with Israel that could jeopardize its military achievements in Syria at a time when it is trying to salvage the global nuclear deal and may be limited in its ability to strike back.

Tension has been building.

In February, Israel shot down an Iranian drone that entered its airspace, triggering a clash in which an Israeli warplane crashed after being struck by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a televised address lauding Trump's Iran policy and alluding to the tensions over Syria.

Israel officials have downplayed a link between the USA withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the immediate escalation in tensions, though Israelis on the Golan Heights were ordered to open their bomb shelters at the very moment Trump made his announcement.

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Netanyahu says he and Putin also discussed the USA administration's decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, but says the conversation focused mostly on Iran's effort to turn Syria into a forward base to attack Israel.

On Friday, France urged Europeans to stand up to Trump over the nuclear deal and not act as "vassals", as the EU scrambles to find ways to save the accord and the billions of dollars in trade it unleashed. But if it completely collapses and the US imposes heavy new sanctions on Iran, prospects for major fallout with Israel are higher.

Iran's hardliners are already mobilising against any concessions to Europe, with hundreds protesting in Tehran after Friday prayers, saying it was time to abandon the deal. The revolution's leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, declared Israel an "enemy of Islam" and cut all ties.

Israel has always been wary of Iran's growing influence in the region.

In Iran's first official reaction to the attack, a Friday report in state-run IRNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying the Israeli attack on Syria under "fabricated and baseless excuses" is a breach of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.

Israeli media said Tuesday's order to prepare bomb shelters on the Golan was unprecedented during Syria's war. But Israel and Russian Federation have maintained close communications to prevent their air forces from coming into conflict.

According to Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a research fellow at the Middle East Forum, there are several key candidates who might launch the missile barrage for Iran.

A low-level struggle has been under way for years in which the Israelis have sought to prevent sophisticated Iranian weaponry, such as long-range and anti-shipping missiles, being passed by Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

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