A senior Iranian lawmaker has warned that his country will retaliate against what he called Israeli "aggression" in Syria after missile strikes this week killed 26 mostly Iranian fighters stationed at a Syrian military base.
"We will respond to any aggression on Iran at the right time and place," Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament's national security committee, said after meeting with President Bashar al-Assad during a two-day visit to Damascus on May 1.
"The aggression of the Zionist entity on our advisers in Syria guarantees us the right of response," Boroujerdi said. "We are in Syria at the request of the Syrian government."
Boroujerdi's remarks echo a warning from Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on April 30 that the time when Iran's enemies can "hit and run" is over.
No country has claimed responsibility for the missile strikes on April 29, which follow several suspected Israeli attacks inside Syria in recent years. Israel generally does not comment on specific missions but acknowledges it has carried out scores of strikes against what it describes as Iranian deployments or arms transfers to its ally Hizballah in Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said that at least 26 people were killed at the base in northern Syria known as Brigade 47 on April 29, and most of them were Iranians or members of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia.
Earlier this month, Tehran and Hizballah accused Israel of a missile strike which Tehran said killed seven of its military personnel in Syria.
Israel recently has repeatedly warned Iran against augmenting its military presence in Syria as Damascus gains ground in its seven-year civil war against Sunni rebels.
"The presence of our military advisers in Syria has nothing to do with Israel," Boroujerdi said, insisting that Iranian military personnel are working in coordination with Damascus and Russia to fight insurgents in that country.
The Iranian legislator's comments came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN that Israel is not seeking a war with Iran despite provoking Tehran this week with the release of documents allegedly revealing secret details of Iran's nuclear weapons program over the last decade -- a program that Iran denies having.
Israeli officials have acknowledged that the document release was timed to support a possible decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal this month, in a step that would likely destroy the agreement.
Netanyahu said Israel would like to defeat what he called a "terrible" nuclear deal, but it is not seeking war with Tehran.
"Nobody's seeking that kind of development. Iran is the one that's changing the rules in the region," Netanyahu told CNN.