Pentagon chief James Mattis told reporters Friday that direct conflict between Israeli and Iranian forces is “very likely,” just days after French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that he believes US President Donald Trump will scrap the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The defense secretary said conflict between the two countries in Syria is “very likely… because Iran continues to do its proxy work there through Hezbollah.”
Mattis later told lawmakers in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, “I can see how it might start, but I am not sure when or where.” Mattis’ counterpart, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, met with Mattis after the hearing, according to the Jerusalem Post. Liberman also met with US National Security Adviser John Bolton, who he called a “loyal friend to the state of Israel” in a tweet.
Tensions in the region have continued to rise since US, French and British missile strikes targeted Syria two weeks ago. Newly minted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that it was “unlikely” Trump would keep the US in the Iran deal during his first news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, echoing the perspective of the French head of state.
“My view — I don’t know what your president will decide — is that he will get rid of this deal on his own, for domestic reasons,” Macron said earlier this week while speaking at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.
“If you heard him in the Oval Office, you will have come to the same conclusions,” he said before pointing out that ripping up the Iran deal was one of Trump’s campaign promises.