IslamNews – Former US secretary of state John Kerry on Monday denied Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s claim that the top US diplomat told him Israel had carried out 200 strikes on Iranian targets in Syria.
Kerry’s denial came amid pressure from some parts of the Republican party after The New York Times published a report on a leaked interview Zarif gave last year.
Finance Minister Israel Katz at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center on December 20, 2020 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Zarif said that he was often kept in the dark about security matters, and that “to his astonishment,” Kerry told him that Israel had attacked Iranian interests in Syria at least 200 times.
In the recording, Zarif told the interviewer that he hadn’t been told about key issues.
“You did not know?” the interviewer asked twice, according to direct quotes published by the Times for the first time on Monday evening, to which Zarif responded “no, no” on both occasions.
Zarif did not clarify when the purported conversation with Kerry took place. Kerry served as a chief negotiator for the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and dealt closely with Zarif over the years.
Israel acknowledges having launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war there in 2011, aimer to counter Iranian moves to establish a permanent military presence in the country and to transport advanced, game-changing weapons to terrorist groups in the region, principally Hezbollah.
Still, Israel’s official policy is to neither officially confirm nor deny specific operations in Syria, save for those in retaliation for an attack from the country.
State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday noted the widespread reporting on Israel’s strikes and implied that even if Kerry had made the comments, the existence of the strikes was public knowledge.
“I would just make the broad point that if you go back and look at press reporting from the time, this certainly was not secret,” Price said. “And governments that were involved were speaking to this publicly, on the record.”
Some Republican officials attacked Kerry in the wake of the Times report, accusing him of leaking Israeli military secrets. Kerry, who now serves as US President Joe Biden’s special envoy on the climate crisis, was already under fire from the GOP over those policies.
Source: The Times Of Israel