US efforts to bully Iran into a new nuclear deal have been one of the main catalysts for the ongoing conflict. Iran has partially suspended its commitments under the deal, claiming European powers failed to shield it from US pressure.

Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi has boasted that Israel is “the only country in the world that has been killing Iranians for two years now.”

In a radio interview on Sunday, Hanegbi added that Israel “strikes the Iranians hundreds of times in Syria. Sometimes admits it and sometimes foreign reports expose it, sometimes the chief of staff, sometimes the outgoing air force chief, but it is all a coordinated policy.”

Just last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touted the Israeli Defence Forces as “the only army in the world fighting Iran”.

As part of its proxy war with Iran, Israel has been striking targets in Syria that it claims belong to Iran. Tel Aviv is driven by concerns that its arch-foe Tehran is trying to maintain a lasting military presence in post-war Syria.

“The greatest threat to stability and security in the region comes from Iran and its satellites,” Netanyahu said in February. “We are determined to continue with our aggressive action against the efforts of Iran, which calls for our destruction, and against its attempts to entrench militarily in Syria.”

Hanegbi, a member of the Netanyahu’s right-leaning Likud Party, has been in charge of several major government departments and has overseen Israel’s intelligence services. He is also a member of the State Security Cabinet, a small forum defining the country’s foreign and defence policy.

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