Iranian lawmakers and commanders issued stark warnings to the United States and its allies Tuesday, saying any military strike on Syria would lead to a retaliatory attack on Israel fanned by "the flames of outrage."
Iran, which itself came under chemical weapons assault by Iraq during their eight-year war in the 1980s, has been a loyal ally of the Syrian government. Iran has blamed Israel for the conflict in Syria, saying Israel is trying to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"In case of a U.S. military strike against Syria, the flames of outrage of the region's revolutionaries will point toward the Zionist regime," the Fars news agency quoted Mansur Haqiqatpur, an influential member of Parliament, as saying Tuesday.
But if it turns out that Assad's side deployed the weapons, it will be difficult for Iranian leaders to explain their support for the Syrian president to their people, analysts point out.
Iranian hard-liners say any attack on Syria is in fact an act of war against Iran, and point to a support pact in which both nations have vowed to defend each other in case of a military attack by a third country.
As the United States prepares for a possible military attack against Syria, Israeli leaders are making it clear that they have no intention of standing down this time if attacked.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday issued the starkest warning to date in response to recent saber-rattling by Assad's government, which has said it might respond to a U.S. strike by attacking Israel.
"We are not part of the civil war in Syria, but if we identify any attempt whatsoever to harm us, we will respond with great force," Netanyahu said after huddling for a second consecutive day with key cabinet members to discuss the possible ramifications of a U.S. strike against Syria.