by Shlomo Cesana, Yoni Hersch, Daniel Siryoti, David Baron, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
Iran's breach of Israeli airspace was "an egregious and unprompted escalation," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley says
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley warned Wednesday that Iran's piloting of a drone into Israeli airspace on Saturday must serve as a "wake-up call to the world" regarding the Islamic republic's efforts to cement its presence in Syria.
Saturday's incident ratcheted up tensions on the Israel-Syria border. The Iranian drone was intercepted by Israeli air defenses, but a retaliatory strike on Iranian assets in Syria saw anti-aircraft fire down an Israeli fighter jet as it was returning from its mission.
Addressing a U.N. Security Council briefing that focused on the situation in Syria and Saturday's incident, Haley lambasted Iran's breach of Israeli airspace.
"Earlier this week, Iranian-backed militias in southern Syria launched a drone into Israeli territory. It was an egregious and unprompted escalation. The drone flight this week is a wake-up call for all of us. Iran and Hezbollah are making plans to stay in Syria," she said.
"Iran was once again doing what it does – risking conflict and testing the will of its neighbors and opponents to resist its aggression. Israel rightly took action to defend itself. The United States will always stand by our ally when confronted with provocations from Iran, Hezbollah, or the Assad regime."
Haley went on to stress that the incident "shines a spotlight on the reality in Syria today. We are seeing actors engage in a dangerous game of pushing boundaries, instead of behaving responsibly and committing to peace.
"The Assad regime has become a front for Iran, Hezbollah, and their allies to advance the irresponsible and dangerous agenda for the Middle East. On every front of this conflict [in Syria], we find fighters imported by Iran from Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. When we see the Assad regime starving civilians in eastern Ghouta or pummeling schools and hospitals in Idlib, we see advisers from Iran and Hezbollah helping direct those atrocities," Haley said.
She further warned that Iran's presence in Syria prevents the possibility of brokering an end to the nearly seven-year-long civil war.
"It's hard to see how a peace process will work while the Assad regime continues to launch all-out attacks against the Syrian people, and Iran and Hezbollah are entrenching themselves inside the country."
Ahead of the meeting, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said that the Security Council should condemn Iran's aggression and put an end to Tehran's provocation in the region.
"The Security Council cannot stand idly by as Iran repeatedly violates U.N. resolutions and pursues actions that could lead to a dangerous escalation," he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday also expressed concern over Saturday's incident.
During a visit to Jordan, Tillerson said Iran should withdraw its forces and militias from Syria, where Tehran backs President Bashar Assad.
Responding to the comments, a senior Iranian official, Ali Akbar Velayati, said Iran's military presence in Syria was legitimate and based on an invitation from Damascus. He called on U.S. forces to leave Syria.
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