Analysts: Syria retaliation threat not just empty rhetoric

Analysts: Syria retaliation threat not just empty rhetoric

Syria’s Assad regime and its Iran-backed allies have pledged to retaliate against any U.S. attack, and Middle East analysts say weapons and terrorist networks at their disposal mean the threats should be taken seriously.

“Iran is a huge threat,” said Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Both Iran and Syria have threatened to retaliate against Israel and other U.S. allies in the Middle East in the event of a U.S. attack on Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians. Hundreds of Syrians in a region held by rebels were reported killed in the Aug. 21 attack.

Iran’s ruling mullahs are Syria’s main ally in the region and view the survival of the Assad regime as important to their aims. Mehdi Taeb, confidant of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said Syria is Iran’s “35th province. … If we lose Syria we won’t be able to hold Tehran,” writes Karim Sadjapour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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