Angela Merkel: Israel has ′right′ to defend itself against Iran in Syria | News | DW | 28.01.2019
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Angela Merkel: Israel has 'right' to defend itself against Iran in Syria

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed support for Israel's policy of targeting Iranian forces in Syria. She told Israeli radio that Germany was working to keep Iranian military units away from the Israeli border.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Israeli public radio that it was "important and right" that Israel defends itself from Iranian forces in Syria.

"Iran has policies that are threatening to Israel," Merkel told Kan Reka radio. Asked about recent Israeli airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, she said "Israel must secure its existence."

Germany was also working to ensure that Iranian forces do not approach the Golan Heights near the Israeli border, she added.

Read more: What foreign powers want from the Syrian war

'Wipe Israel off the Earth'

Israel, which rarely comments on its military operations in Syria, admitted last week that its warplanes had struck elite Iranian troops in Syria.

After the strike, the head of Iran's air force reportedly said his soldiers were ready to "wipe Israel off the Earth."

Israel fears that Iran, which, along with Russia, is allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad, could build up a military presence near its border.

Following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in June, Merkel said Germany would use all diplomatic measures to "push Iran out of the [Syrian] border region with Israel."

With Russian and Iranian help, Assad's loyalist forces have retaken large areas of Syria in recent years.

Read more: What is the Iran nuclear deal?

Watch video 00:34

Merkel: pulling out of Iran deal 'violates trust'

Iran deal disagreements

Despite their unified stance against Iranian activity in Syria, Israel and Germany disagree on an EU-backed nuclear deal with Iran signed in 2015.

Israel says the deal, which lifted Western sanctions in exchange for restrictions on Iran's nuclear program, threatens its security. Germany says the deal is the best way to avoid Iran developing a nuclear weapon.

The deal's future is uncertain after the United States withdrew from it in May 2018.

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