Iran reiterated Saturday its threats that any attack on Syria
would be perceived as one on the Islamic Republic and will meet "a harsh response."
Tehran's IRNA news agency quoted Defense Minister Brigadier-General Ahmad Vahidi as saying that Syrian Army, which is "the vanguard of campaign against Zionist regime should not be weakened."
has been Syrian President Bashar Assad's
strongest allay since Syria plunged into civil war.
Tehran has supplied Damascus with funds, weapons and training; and has repeatedly vowed
to send its army to Assad's aid should any attempt be made by the West to topple his regime.
The threats have become more strident following NATO's decision to send Patriot missile batteries to Turkey, which fears the civil war tearing its neighbor apart may morph into a war between them.
The first of six Patriot missile batteries placed near the Turkish-Syrian border went operational on Saturday.
Vahidi told reporters that "The Syrian crisis should be resolved through peaceful means and national dialogue between the warring parties."
Syria's Bashar Assad, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadenijad (Photo: AFP)
He denounced any attempt to hasten said solution by the West, saying that "Any alien interference has so far brought only harmful consequences for the Syrian people.
"The Syrian problems have roots in covert and overt interference of the Zionists," he said adding that "Iran has always adopted a rational stand toward Syria."
Commenting on the Patriot deployment in Turkey, Vahidi said that "The move is not useful. We believe it will create misunderstanding among countries in the region.
"Enemies try to sow discord among Islamic states through masterminding various scenarios," he said.
Israel has been following the situation in Syria closely: Assad is believed to have the largest arsenal of chemical and biological weapons in the world. and the escalating civil war has sparked concerns that his WMDs may find their way into the hands of various terror groups, such as Hezbollah.
Israel's defense establishment has been holding periodic security assessments on the matter, as such an occurrence could potentially change the balance of power between the IDF
and the Lebanon-based Shiite terror group.
According to various reports, Israeli security officials have been meeting with their European counterparts in order to coordinate positions regarding the situation in Syria.
Various security officials, including IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz,
have alluded that Israel will not abide such a change and that if it becomes a reality, Israel will have no choice but to consider its counter-military options.
The London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported recently that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
made a visit to Jordan,
to discuss the recent developments in Syria, as part of these efforts. No Israeli source corroborated the report.
Meanwhile, the IDF has been fortifying the northern border in what has been described by security sources as "a race against the clock."
The new border fence built along the border is equipped with advances surveillance systems able to provide the IDF with more intelligence about inland Syria
The IDF has expressed concerns that the growing chaos in Syria will serve as a breeding ground for new terror groups, as well as a safe haven for other nefarious elements that may choose to target Israel.
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