Jim Mattis. (photo credit: REUTERS)
United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis staunchly supported Israel’s right to defend itself amid the country’s rising tensions with Syria, saying on Monday Israel "has an absolute right to defend themselves."
Mattis spoke in a press gaggle en route to Rome, where he will join about a dozen members of the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State will meet at a conference to discuss the fight against the group.
"Israel has an absolute right to defend itself, and I think that’s what happened yesterday," he said in response to a question about Saturday’s military crisis, warning also about a growing Iranian influence in the region.
"So when Syria, which has made no… excuse for what they’re doing alongside Iran, when they are providing throughout for Iran to give weapons, including more sophisticated weapons, to the Lebanese Hezbollah, Israel has an absolute right to defend themselves," he stated.
"If you live in the region, there’s no doubt what Iran is doing."