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A military confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syria is becoming increasing likely, US Defense Secretary James Mattis warned on Thursday as his Israeli counterpart was visiting Washington to discuss the threat.

Secretary Mattis delivered his warning of yet another military conflict in the Middle East at a hearing in Congress. Asked if Israel and Iran were edging toward military confrontation, he said: “I can see how it might start, but I am not sure when or where.”

"I think that it's very likely in Syria because Iran continues to do its proxy work there through Hezbollah.”

He accused Iran of not only expanding and strengthening its presence in Syria but also “bringing advanced weapons for Hezbollah through Syria”.

Israel, he said “will not wait to see those missiles in the air and we hope Iran would pull back”.

The Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who met US national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary Mattis on Thursday, also warned of a confrontation with Iran.

"Any site in which we see an Iranian attempt to achieve a military foothold in Syria will be struck. We won't let that happen, regardless of the price," he told the Arabic news website Elaph.

Israel said it carried out air strikes against Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria in February after one its F16 fighter jets was downed near the Syrian border.

 

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