Maj.-Gen. Muhammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said in an interview late on Wednesday with the Tasnim news agency that a US strike on Syria would not help Israel.
“An attack on Syria will mean the imminent destruction of Israel,” Jafari said.
The interview was widely picked up by Iranian media on Thursday.
Tasnim, which launched in 2012, says on its website that it is devoted to “defending the Islamic Revolution against negative media propaganda.”
Jafari, as quoted by Tasnim, also warned the United States that it risked embroilment in a costly and protracted struggle if it intervened in Syria.
The commander of the Iranian al- Quds Brigades, Maj.-Gen. Qassem Suleimani, told a closed meeting Wednesday that the countries of the Levant “will be the graveyards of the Americans,” according to Hezbollah’s al-Manar website.
“Syria will turn into a more dangerous and deadly battlefield than the Vietnam War, and in fact, Syria will become the second Vietnam for the United States,” he said.
He was also quoted as saying that any US soldier “entering Syria will have to carry his coffin with him.”
The past week has seen loads of harsh rhetoric coming from Syrian and Iranian officials. Other Iranian comments reported on Thursday by Tasnim made various claims and threats regarding a possible US attack on Syria.
An Iranian lawmaker, Abdolreza Azizi, criticized the US, comparing the country’s actions to Hitler’s moves.
“Like Hitler who started World War II, the US is igniting World War III,” he said according to the report.
He added that the Syrian army was at “the peak of its power” and that it increases each day, and for that reason it does not even need chemical weapons.
Maj.-Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, said late Wednesday that a military intervention would only benefit “the Zionists.”
Assad, in the meantime, is seeking to rally his troops and keep motivations high, perhaps fearing defections after any Western military attack.
The Lebanese newspaper Al- Akhbar, which tends to support the axis of Iran, Hezbollah and Syria, stated that Assad told the country’s military leadership that “since the beginning of the crisis, we were sure that the moment would come when our real enemy would interfere.”
He said that he knows that their morale is high and that they are ready to face any aggression and protect the homeland.
He told the commanders to spread the message to their inferiors and the citizenry.
“This is a historic confrontation that we will come out of victorious,” he concluded.
Assad said on Thursday that Syria would defend itself against any aggression following reports that the United States and its allies were preparing military action in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack.
“The threats of direct aggression against Syria will only increase our commitment to our deep-rooted principles and the independent will of our people. Syria will defend itself in the face of any aggression,” state television quoted Assad as telling a delegation of Yemeni politicians.
His prime minister, Wael al-Halqi, called on Thursday for mobilizing national resources to preserve essential state services in the case of a military attack by the United States and its Western allies in the coming days.
Al-Halqi said the steps he was calling for were necessary “to overcome any emergency situation and prevent enemies from disrupting state services, especially electricity, drinking water, communications, food and oil,” according to a statement from SANA, Syria’s state news agency.
“The government strives to secure supplies of food, medicine and services,” said al-Halqi. “There is a strategic supply of all materials, and the bakeries are continuing to operate around the clock to meet citizens’ needs.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by phone late Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and agreed to increase efforts to prevent any military action in Syria, according to Iran’s Mehr News Agency.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s top officials met on Thursday to discuss the Syrian crisis. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the country was ready to take part in an international coalition against Assad, according to a report in the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman.
“We are now in a more alert position....
Turkey will take whatever measures necessary within the framework of its own strategic interests,” Davutoglu told reporters.
“The Turkish Armed Forces have a mandate to take every measure against any security threat from Syria or elsewhere... and retaliate within the rules of engagement,” he said, hinting at the possibility of Turkish military action in Syria.