TEL AVIV — Israel will escalate its attacks against Iranian-aligned forces in Syria after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.
Some Israeli officials have said President Trump’s move, announced on Wednesday, could help Iran by removing a U.S. garrison that stems the movement of Iranian forces and weaponry into Syria from Iraq.
Netanyahu also worries that its main ally’s exit could reduce its diplomatic leverage with Russia, the Syrian government’s big-power backer.
“We will continue to act very aggressively against Iran’s efforts to entrench in Syria,” Netanyahu said in televised remarks, referring to an Israeli air campaign in Syria against Iranian deployments and alleged arms transfers to Lebanese Hezbollah group, carried out with Moscow often turning a blind eye.
“We do not intend to reduce our efforts, Netanyahu said. “We will intensify them, and I know that we do so with the full support and backing of the United States.”
Trump cited what he described as victory over ISIS in Syria as warranting the U.S. withdrawal. Israel has long tried to persuade Washington that Iran and its allied militias, sent to reinforce Damascus, pose the greater threat.