Pence blames nuclear deal for Iranian forces in Syria

Vice President Mike Pence defended Israeli air strikes on Iranian targets overnight, saying "we stand by Israel's right of self-defense to protect its nation, its people, and its sovereignty."

Israel and Iran have traded fire in the most serious military confrontation in recent years between the nations. Israel says it attacked "dozens" of Iranian targets in Syria, retaliation for an earlier Iranian rocket barrage on Israeli forces.

"We've been anticipating the potential for some Iranian reaction since air strikes that took place a couple of weeks ago against Iranian sites in Syria," the vice president told Margaret Brennan, moderator of "Face the Nation" in an interview for "CBS This Morning."

Israeli-Iran conflict dramatically escalates

On Thursday, the White House released a statement that echoed the vice president's comments, condemning "the Iranian regime's provocative rocket attacks from Syria against Israeli citizens" as a "severe threat to international peace and stability."  

The vice president sat down early Thursday morning with Brennan for an interview at Joint Base Andrews. Hours earlier, he had been among those greeting three Americans freed from North Korea. 

The vice president blamed the Iran nuclear agreement for not checking "the aggressive influence of Iran across the region." President Trump announced Tuesday the United States would "withdraw" from the deal. 

"It's exactly why Iran is in Syria. It's exactly why you have Iranian forces and Iranian missiles that have positioned in Syria as that nation's been swept up into a bloody civil war," Pence said.

"We will not let Iran turn Syria into a forward base against Israel," Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday, speaking at a security conference.

"They need to remember this arrogance of theirs. If we get rain, they'll get a flood. I hope that we ended this chapter and that everyone understood," Lieberman added.


Some of Margaret Brennan's interview with Vice President Mike Pence aired Thursday on "CBS This Morning." You can read a full transcript of Brennan's interview of the vice president here.