Iran Air Force
© Reuters / Raheb Homavandi
FILE PHOTO: Iran Air Force fighter jets
Tehran has warned of a "crushing and proportional response" unless Israel stops its bombing campaign in Syria, which, according to Tel Aviv, is aimed only at curbing Iranian influence in the region and its borders in particular.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been waging an active campaign against alleged Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria for years, claiming complete intel and air superiority and full right to protect its national security. Despite "thousands" of Israeli strikes, which a former IDF chief of staff admitted to in December, Iran has yet to openly retaliate - but is open to any options.

"In case of continued acts, the measures foreseen for deterrence and for a crushing and proportional response will be activated to give a lesson to the liar and criminal Israeli rulers," the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani told Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem in Tehran on Tuesday.

Muallem welcomed Iranian commitment in Syria, noting that Damascus will continue doing its best to protect military advisers of the Islamic Republic that, alongside the Russian military, were officially invited by the Syrian government to help it fight terrorism.

The issue of Iranian presence in Syria has taken center stage as Washington starts to withdraw its 2,000-troop contingent from the war-torn country. Last month Israel warned that IDF forces would continue to attack Iranians in the region.

"It's very important that we continue to prevent Iran from entrenching in Syria. In many ways, we blocked that advance. But we are committed to continuously blocking it, continuously preventing Iran from creating another war front against us right here opposite the Golan Heights," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday, announcing that he would meet Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month to discuss developments in Syria.

Damascus has repeatedly denounced Israeli airstrikes, stressing that they constitute a rampant violation of its state sovereignty and often aid terrorists on the ground. Russia has joined Syria in condemning Israeli operations as often reckless acts that sometimes endanger civilian flights in the area.

Last year, Damascus received a batch of Russian S-300 air defense systems, which was supplied by Moscow in the wake of the downing of the Russian Il-20 reconnaissance plane with 15 servicemen on board on September 17. Russia said the tragedy occurred because an Israeli F-16 jet used the recon plane as cover during its raid on Syria. Similar reckless behavior was witnessed during Israel's airstrikes on Christmas Day, when IDF jets approached their targets just as civilian aircraft were landing at Beirut and Damascus airports.