The former Chief of Staff for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), General Gadi Eisenkot, commented on the 20th anniversary of the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, which took place on this date in 2000.
During his interview with the publication, Israel Hayom, the ex-IDF chief said that his country managed to foil a major plan by the late Quds Force commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Major-General Qassem Soleimani, in Lebanon and Syria.
The former IDF chief stated that General Soleimani was planning to build airbases in Syria, and brought 100,000 Shiite youth from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, but he claims that the late Quds Force commander was unsuccessful.
He said that “there were major goals for Soleimani in the Middle East, among which was maintaining the rule of Ayatollah and Iran as a strong and advanced country, achieving regional hegemony in the Middle East, and obtaining nuclear weapons.”
“Ultimately, the best thing happened to Israel when the Americans eliminated him,” the former IDF chief said in the interview.
Despite Eisenkot’s claim, Israel continues to heavily target Syria each month with airstrikes on what are perceived to be Iranian positions inside the country.
— Asharq Al-Awsat English (@aawsat_eng) May 23, 2020
Most recently, outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett claimed that the Iranian forces were withdrawing from Syria; however, this was refuted by Iranian officials and military personnel.
Furthermore, they pointed out that the Iranian forces on the ground in Syria are in fact military advisors that were requested by the Syrian government.
The Iranian officials added that these advisors would remain in Syria until the government no longer needs them.