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An Israeli official just threatened to assassinate Bashar Assad

The energy minister warned Assad "should know that would be the end of him" if he allowed Iran to strike from within Syria

An Israeli cabinet minister threatened Monday to destroy the Syrian regime and even assassinate leader Bashar Assad should Iran launch strikes against the Jewish state from within Syria.

“If Assad allows Iran to turn Syria into a military vanguard against us, to attack us from Syrian territory, he should know that would be the end of him, the end of his regime,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Ynet news site.


Besides troops from Russia, Assad’s regime has been buttressed in recent years by soldiers from Iran and militiamen from Lebanon's Hezbollah, sparking fears in Tel Aviv that Israel’s northern border has become increasingly vulnerable to those actors within the civil war.

Over the weekend, Israeli media published stories warning that Tehran is planning a missile strike against Israeli military bases from within Syria using Syrian Shiite forces and Hezbollah specialists.

“Whoever is interested in Assad’s survival should do the honor of telling Assad to prevent attacks on Israel,” Steinitz said, reacting to the reports — a warning likely directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin, Assad’s key backer whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Wednesday in Moscow.

Tensions could quickly escalate should President Donald Trump pull the U.S. out of the 2015 Iran deal, which requires his renewal on May 12.

Both Iran and Israel weighed in on the Obama-era agreement over the weekend, with President Hassan Rouhani warning America will feel “historic regret” if it withdraws, while Netanyahu dismissed the accord as “fatally flawed,” adding it should be “fully fixed or fully nixed.”

Cover image: Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz gestures as he speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Paris, Monday, March 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)