The United States Defense chief James Mattis arrived in Israel on Thursday where he will hold talks on the Syrian civil war, US policy on Iran, and the two countries’ close strategic relations.
He met with the Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Reuven Rivlin.
Netanyahu said “Israel has no better friend than America. America has no better friend than Israel. And this is a partnership based on common values in the deepest sense of the word”
Mattis has already been to Saudi Arabia, which was his first stop on a sweeping tour across the Middle East and the Horn of Africa to discuss America’s role in regional security.
He said the United States has seen “Iranian supplied missiles being fired by the Houthis into Saudi Arabia” and vowed to work with U.S. allies to help the conflict. No word of the US supplied weapons which has helped kill thousands of Yemeni civilians.
Press TV reports:
Mattis hopes to hear directly from Israeli leaders their concerns about regional issues, with Iran’s influence topping the list.
‘No doubt Syria has chemical weapons’
The conflict in Syria, where the US and Israel seek to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power, is also on the agenda, according to the prime minister’s office.
Israel was one of the first US allies to salute President Donald Trump for a recent missile strike on a Syrian airbase, where they alleged a suspected chemical attack originated.
Speaking during a press conference with Lieberman on Friday, Mattis said there can be “no doubt” that Syria has retained some chemical weapons and warned President Assad not to use them.
“There can be no doubt in the international community’s mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all. There is no longer any doubt,” he said.
The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been pushing to overthrow the Syrian government through the use of proxy militant forces in the country.
Iran has been lending advisory support to Syria in its battle against the foreign-backed militants, but has avoided direct military involvement in the conflict.
Known as the “Mad Dog,” Mattis has famously said the three gravest threats to US national security were “Iran, Iran, Iran.”
While in Riyadh on Wednesday, the Pentagon chief reiterated the Trump administration’s position that Iran seeks to “destabilize” the region.
He told reporters after meeting with senior Saudi officials that “everywhere you look if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran.”