Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praises Syria air strikes and warns about Iran

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US led air strikes on Syrian targets, but warned that Iran’s presence in the country further endangered it.  

“Early this morning, under American leadership, the United States, France and the United Kingdom demonstrated that their commitment is not limited to proclamations of principle,” he said in a statement. 

He added that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad must understand that “his provision of a forward base for Iran and its proxies endangers Syria”.

An Israeli official said Israel was notified of the strikes ahead of time, adding they believed it was around 12 to 24 hours in advance. 

Asked whether Israel had helped to choose targets, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added: “Not to my knowledge.”

A US embassy spokeswoman later confirmed to the Reuters news agency that Israel had been notified before the strikes, but provided no further details.

Iran’s involvement in Syria in support of Assad has alarmed Israel, which has said it will counter any threat. The armed Iranian-backed Shi’ite movement Hezbollah, which has an extensive missile arsenal, last fought a war with Israel in 2006.

Syria, Iran and Russia say Israel was behind an air strike on a Syrian air base earlier this week that killed seven Iranian military personnel, something Israel has neither confirmed nor denied.

Russian President Vladimir Putin subsequently spoke to Mr Netanyahu and urged him to do nothing to destabilise Syria, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Mr Netanyahu said Israel would not allow Iran to establish itself in Syria, according to his office.

Israel has mounted air strikes in Syria on a regular basis, targeting suspected weapons shipments to Lebanese Hezbollah.

US President Donald Trump said he was prepared to sustain the response until Mr Assad’s government stopped its use of chemical weapons.

Reuters contributed to this report

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