Ex-Mossad chief warns war could erupt between Israel, Russia in Syria
A former head of Israel's intelligence agency has warned that the chances that war could break out between Israel and Russia have increased as Moscow becomes further entrenched in Syria.
Ephraim Halevy made the comments during excerpts of an interview aired on Thursday with local Israeli network Channel 10.
"This war will be with a world power based to the north of us, in which the northern border will be a decisive factor," Halevy said, according to a translation from Hebrew by Palestinian news website Arab48.
"Russia has entered Syria to establish itself and remain there for a long time. Russia has set up military bases and capabilities to last decades. I think [Russia] does not want to defeat its strategic partner in the region Iran,"
"It could reach a situation, where Israeli and Russian forces confront each other and it turns into a war," the ex-Mossad chief added.
Russia and Iran have backed the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the seven-year civil war.
Moscow intervened in Syria in 2015, turning the tables in the multi-front civil war in favour of Assad, while Iran has sent thousands of troops and allied militiamen to support his forces.
Halevy's comments come amid a war of words between Tel Aviv and Tehran after a suspected Israeli strike on an Syrian air base killed seven Iranians.
On Thursday, a senior Iranian official warned Israel not to provoke Iran a day after Israel's prime minister issued a similar warning to Tehran.
Ali Shirazi, an aide to Iran’s supreme leader, said Iran was capable of destroying Israel.
At a Holocaust memorial ceremony on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Iran not to "test Israel's resolve."
Netanyahu has said Israel will not tolerate an Iranian military presence in Syria, especially along the border.
Israel has sought to avoid direct involvement in the Syrian conflict, but it acknowledges carrying out dozens of airstrikes there to stop what it says are advanced arms deliveries to its enemy Hizballah, the Lebanese Shia group, which is backing the Assad regime.