Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday said that Israel has attacked Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim militias in Syria saying such actions as potentially helping to stem a Syrian Sunni Muslim refugee exodus to Europe.
Israeli officials says that the motive behind the series of attacks would curtail suspected arms transfers to Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah guerrillas or Iranian military deployments.
Iran, which has been helping Damascus beat back a seven-year-old rebellion, have been accused by the Israeli Prime Minister of bringing in 80,000 Shi’ite fighters from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to mount attacks against Israel and “convert” Syria’s Sunni majority.
“That is a recipe for a re-inflammation of another civil war – I should say a theological war, a religious war – and the sparks of that could be millions more that go into Europe and so on.
“And that would cause endless upheaval and terrorism in many, many countries,” Netanyahu told an international security forum.
“Obviously we are not going to let them do it. We’ll fight them. By preventing that – and we have bombed the bases of this, these Shi’ite militias – by preventing that, we are also offering, helping the security of your countries, the security of the world.”
The Nation reports that Netanyahu did not elaborate. About half Syria’s pre-war 22 million populations has been rendered homeless by the fighting, with hundreds of thousands of refugees making it to Europe.
Under recent deals between Assad’s government and mainly Sunni rebels, insurgents have left long-besieged areas sometimes in exchange for Shi’ite residents moving from villages surrounded by insurgents.
The Damascus government says the deals allow it to take back control and to restore services in the wrecked towns.